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Medical Marijuana for Dogs & Cats

Medical Marijuana for Dogs & Cats

Veterinarians aren’t empowered to prescribe cannabis to pets, just like Medical Doctors aren’t empowered to prescribe cannabis to human – but that doesn’t mean it lacks useful medicinal value.

Big Pharma and the Pet industry (North America’s two largest money making verticals) do not want you and your best, four-legged friends to know how you could be approaching your health and wellness holistically and at a frugal cost. According to veterinarian Dr.Gary Richter, and the veterinarian doctors of Canna Companion, cannabis can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions including, but not limited to:1,2


  • Control chronic pain & inflammation associated with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and FIC/FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease) etc.
  • Acts as a neuro-protective agent reducing seizure frequency and intensity
  • Decreases nausea and stimulate appetite
  • Reduces cancer-associated symptoms
  • Aids in decreasing severity of dementia
  • Managing symptoms associated with Glaucoma
  • Reduces bronchial spasms in asthmatics
  • Lowers anxiety, thus increasing focus during training sessions
  • Supports the immune system for conditions like food allergies and immune-mediated diseases
  • Improves Quality of life/ Hospice care


Like humans, and all other mammals, cats and dogs have natural cannabinoid receptors which are part of an entire endocannabinoid system (ECS).3 The ECS is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-perception, mood and memory, as well as mediating the psychoactive effects of Cannabis.3 Nearly every tissue within a mammal’s body contains receptors which respond to the components found in cannabis, acting separately but holistically with the body’s other receptor systems (ex. central and peripheral nervous systems).2


The stem of a cannabis plant is hemp, which has the lowest amounts of the psychoactive component of THC (~0.3%)4, which produces the “high” sought after by recreational users. Hemp is effective given it naturally contains the compound cannabidiol (CBD), which affect the endocannabinoid system.2 However, CBD has a symbiotic relationship with THC, and the medicinal effects of CBD are further enhanced with some presence of THC. 1,2,4,6,7  

Dr Sarah Brandon, a veterinarian and cofounder of Canna Companion claims “We’ve seen better results with a little THC”.6 Dr. Brandon’s products contain some psychoactive properties (a little bit of bud), and if used at the proper dosage in proportion to the animal’s size, “there is no reason they should ever become intoxicated by it.” 6

animal-1280588_1280For products that are already on the market though, most use industrial/food grade hemp, imported from overseas, low in extractable cannabinoids (medicinal value) and bred for its fibrous properties.2,5 Furthermore, one cannot guarantee that the farming practices of these countries stay within the saftey regulations of Canada (ex. refrain from using harmful pesticides.)

Like us humans, cats and dogs can encounter endocannabinoid deficiencies which makes it “very easy to inadvertently overdose your pets on cannabis”, or in humans, “greening out”. This is why observation and patience is pivotal when administering cannabis. The general rule of thumb is to give the smallest dose possible and gradually work your way up until you find the “smallest yet most effective dosage level”.5

Veterinarians know the signs of marijuana overdose in pets considerably better than any other drug, with 96% of reported cases in dogs and only 3 % in cats.7 We conclude this is due to a dog’s ability to gobble up edibles like no tomorrow! Most cases of marijuana intoxication from a single ingestion/incident, resolve over a period of 3-12 hours, without lasting damage.Regardless, one should know the signs. 


Overdose/Cannabis Intoxication presents itself differently in canines vs. felines. Anxiety presents itself far more in dogs, especially if the dog had a tendency to fearfulness prior to ingestion.7 Overall it is important to understand that your pet is in a mental state where it does not understand what is going on, why it feels the way it does, why or how its state has been altered. This means that things like exaggerated, sudden movements or noises may be more impacting than prior to ingestion.

Dr.Richter, whose facilities include California’s Montclair Veterinary Hospital & the Holistic Veterinary Care Centre, reports that overdose can present itself in different ways:

“A lot of it might be what you expect. The animal will start to look a little bit spacey and get a bit wobbly,…(most) dogs will develop the syndrome called static ataxia, where basically they’re standing still and start to tip over but catch themselves before they fall….If the overdose is substantial enough, the pet’s blood pressure level may not be particularly stable or they won’t eat [or drink].”1

Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in the U.S, says “You would think [dogs would] become sedated and wobbly, but almost a quarter of them become quite agitated…They’re trying to pace. They’re panting. You reach out to pet them and they jerk their heads away.” 8 It is important to remember that animals can also get “high” from secondhand smoke too, and while the vast majority of these overdoses are not fatal 1, 2, 8 they most definitely can be traumatic, not to mention, pricey experiences for pets and their families. 

With that being said, one of the worst pains you can encounter is witnessing a beloved member of your family suffer and not know how to help. Fear of overdose should not veer you away from considering this form of veterinary care. As ABC News reports, “One woman from Fort Bragg was ready to put down her dog due to how sick and in pain he was, but the day before he was scheduled to go under, she administered…..just like that the dog was up, walking around, and acting normally again.” 6

Magic or MJ?

Like with humans, many dogs and cats have found great relief with medicinal marijuana. Wendy Mansfield, owner of an ailing 80 lb canine, says, “Instead of taking four pills, two of them narcotics, Kali now gets three to four cookies every few hours and a pain blocker to help her sleep at night.”5 The difference is, a dog can’t go to jail.


Create Your Own Pet Treats:

It’s easy, simple, and a cost effective form of compassionately caring for your pets!

What you will need:

-1 x 1/4 lb of Ground Up Hemp/ Cannabis Stem Powder 

-basic ingredients suggested for home made cat and dog treats.

HERE and HERE are great resources to find recipes that your four-legged hombres can enjoy.


  • One source recommends: THC-to-CBD ratio of 1:1 for pain relief and appetite stimulation. A THC-to-CBD ratio of 3:1 is recommended for conditions associated with extreme arthritis, for example.3
  • Another source recommends a prescription of “one drop of liquid marijuana put in cheese for every 10 pounds of body weight”8
  • The most common side effect in smaller mammal cannabis ingestion is mild lethargy (which usually subsides in 3-4 days) and looser than normal stool, given hemps high fibre content.2,5


Do not ignore your animal’s weight and fragility when administering cannabis. It is highly recommended that  pet owners start with a lower dose and gradually increase the amount as needed. We also urge pet owners to consult with a vet before taking their animals off prescribed medication.

IN CASE OF OVERDOSE: If you believe your animal is overdosing and fear for its safety, take your animal to your nearest veterinary hospital. Most vets administer oral charcoal as a form of absorbing any toxic products found in the animal’s stomach.7 If ingestion was observed or thought to be recent, and the pet is lucid (knows what’s going on and has normal body strength), they will probably proceed by induce vomiting.7 “If more time had passed, a laxative (e.g. Sorbitol ) might be given to flush out the contents of the pet’s digestive tract.” 7



1 Frye, G. (2016, February 16). Medicinal cannabis for your pet? Here’s what you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.learngreenflower.com/articles/84/medical-cannabis-for-your-pet-2016-2

2 King, I. (2015, March 30). Pot for Pets: How Medical Marijuana Can Help Your Cat. Retrieved from http://consciouscat.net/2015/03/30/pot-for-pets-how-medical-marijuana-can-help-your-cat/

3  Aizpurua-Olaizola, O., Elezgarai, I., Rico-Barrio, I., Zarandona, I., Etxebarria, N., & Usobiaga, A. (2016). Targeting the endocannabinoid system: Future therapeutic strategies. Drug Discovery Today. doi:10.1016/j.drudis.2016.08.005

4 Benhaim, Paul. H.E.M.P.: Healthy Eating Made Possible. London: Fusion, 2000. Print.

5 Truong, A. (2015, April 13). The marijuana industry’s newest customers are sick and elderly dogs. Retrieved from http://qz.com/377887/the-marijuana-industrys-newest-customers-are-sick-and-elderly-dogs/

6 Hesse, J. (2016). Pets on pot: Is medical marijuana giving sick animals a necessary dose of relief? Retrieved October 01, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/23/medical-marijuana-sick-animals-california

7 Hines, R., DVM, PhD. (n.d.). What Would Be The Signs Of An Overdose? Retrieved October 01, 2016, from http://www.2ndchance.info/marijuana.htm

8 Stepko, B. (2015). What You Should Know About Medical Marijuana for Pets. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://news.health.com/2015/05/06/what-you-should-know-about-medical-marijuana-for-pets/