Medical Cannabis for treatment for dogs, cats and other pets in South Africa?
Since Dagga has been decriminalised, and Cannabis oil and CBD oil has gone mainstream in South Africa, more veterinarians are reporting cases of pets/mostly canines accidentally ingesting too much Cannabis.
There is actually a flourishing South African Canna pet market full of products infused with Cannabinoids now available online via medical Cannabis dispensaries, social media and local animal support clubs and groups.
Canna pet treats are fast becoming the go to treat for our furry friends. South Africans buy Cannabis treats or CBD oil to treat their pets when conventional medicine isn’t working. Many swear and stand by the use of Cannabis for medicinal use and how it has or did help their dog, cat, horse, bird, monkey etc.
While CBD oil or CBD capsules pose little risk to animals and studies have shown that Endocannabinoids (ECs) are involved in immunomodulation, neuroprotection and control of inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS), caution must be exercised when using any Cannabis product which contains THC.
As with humans, the question of using medical cannabis to improve the health of a dog or cat is a complicated one. There isn’t a lot of solid, peer-reviewed research examining its safety or effectiveness. That’s slowly changing, though, and the science of cannabis and pets recently took a big leap forward. In July 2018, the first clinical study examining the effects of hemp-based Cannabidiol on arthritic dogs was published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, a leading international journal. The results were extremely encouraging.
Almost anything that cannabis would be used for in a human, from a medical standpoint, has the potential to be equally as valuable in dogs, cats or any animal with an Endocannabinoid system – Pain, inflammation, arthritis, gastro-intestinal related things, stress, anxiety, seizures, cancer etc. Veterinarians across South Africa have seen the benefits in all of these areas.
It’s worth also mentioning that Cannabis in its raw form, where most of the Cannabinoids present are THCa and CBDa, when consumed pose little risk or danger and will have different results than when an animals ingests Cannabis which has been decarboxylated as is the case in Cannabis oil, Cannabis edibles like a dagga dog biscuit or a discarded Cannabis joint or spliff.
Can cats/dogs get high? Does marijuana have harmful effects on dogs/cats?
The scenario usually unfolds after the dogs accidentally consume edibles, discarded joints, or other cannabis products at a home or in a public space. Worse though is when Cannabis users give it to their pets because they think its funny and blow smoke in the animals face. Research has suggested that dogs are particularly sensitive to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel high, probably because they have more cannabinoid receptors than humans in their brains, and a much smaller body weight. Signs of toxicity include a low heart rate, dribbling urine, difficulty walking, and exaggerated responses to stimulus. There is research which suggest that THC may also be toxic to cats.
The more honest an owner is about possible ingestion of marijuana, the less diagnostic testing will need to be run to rule out a neurologic or metabolic cause, and treatment can start more quickly. If you bring your animal in to the vet within one to two hours of them eating Cannabis, the vet may induce vomiting, but only if the marijuana hasn’t been absorbed yet. If the animal is exhibiting the symptoms mentioned above, the THC has already been digested, and it’s too late to induce vomiting. The vet will probably offer supportive care and give intravenous fluids to help dilute the toxins and decrease the rate of absorption.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) functions the same way in people as it does in dogs, cats and other animals. In reality ALL mammals have an Endocannabinoid System. This includes horses, rabbits, monkeys, dolphins and elephants to name a few. A huge amount of research is currently being undertaken around the world to find out how exactly the ECS might be utilized in the treatment of different chronic diseases.
Warning: It may be dangerous to give your pet Cannabis. If your dog, cat or pet needs it for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your vet. As with any drug, giving your pet more than recommended, or giving it to your animal when it’s not necessary, is irresponsible. Start off slow, low doses, and increase dosage slowly. Less is often more.