- The advantages that cannabis provides its consumers are well known. Thanks to THC and CBD, this plant can ease the discomfort of certain chronic diseases, fight insomnia and alleviate stress. However, it seems that the positive effects of cannabis could also benefit animals – although experts say that, for now, there is no scientific evidence proving this.
Those who have a pet know that they can become your best friend. For this and many other reasons, all owners should take care of their pets' health, true companions who are sometimes around for less time than we would like. It seems that cannabis could help our beloved pets to overcome the discomfort caused by inflammation, anxiety, and other kinds of diseases affecting them.
One of the most important advances in this aspect has been the creation of the VETCBD cannabis extract, designed specifically for animals suffering arthritis, anxiety during travel, seizures, chronic pain and loss of appetite. The product was developed by the Californian company of the same name, founded by a group of veterinarians seeking "about bringing premium quality, non-psychoactive cannabis to dogs and cats," according to its web page.
The company states that it is a completely natural extract, without psychoactive effects on animals. VETCBD is made up of 19 parts cannabidiol (CBD), one of the components responsible for the therapeutic effects of cannabis, and one part tetrahidrocannabidiol (THC); enough, say scientists, to allow CBD to function properly. The company explains that its innovation is safe for pets, with visible results between 24 and 48 hours after they consume the product.
Come out to Diamond Hills Reserve until 5 this evening for a free sample of #VETCBD for your pet! pic.twitter.com/TmKsu4RiLB— VETCBD (@VETCBD) 9 de noviembre de 2016
However, the creators of VETCBD were not the first to conclude that cannabis could enhance pets’ well-being. Other consumers had already tried to soothe their animals' discomfort with more products designed specifically for this function.
Case in point: Lisa Mastramico, the head of a public television network in Long Beach, California. The American shares her life with Little Kitty, a cat diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 12. As she explained in The New York Times, Mastramico tried a whole litany of supplements prior to sharing her history with Women Grow, a group of entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry, thanks to whom she tried marijuana.
Subsequently, she received a prescription authorising the use of medical cannabis and ordered two edible oils, designed to prevent her pets from being intoxicated in the event they accidentally sink their snouts in them. Once her cat drinks a little bit, Mastramico swears that her behaviour notably improves: "She comes out of her corner and socializes. She sits on your lap and asks you to pet her. There's a very notable difference.”
With a similar story is Ellis Pérez, a resident of Pompano Beach, in California. Instead of a cannabis-based oil, she decided to give Ricochet, her pet skunk, “Treatibles”: little cannabidiol-based cookies, which helped to boost the animal’s mood.
Cate Norton, a worker at a Springfield (Vermont) animal rescue centre, also experienced something like this, although she opted for “Canna-Pet.” The 36 year-old American actually travelled to New Hampshire to get the product. Norton says that Leia, her three year old dog, has received an eight-month treatment with this hemp-based extract. The results, she says, are spectacular: "There has been a great reduction in seizures and anxiety."
In addition, it seems the cost of these products is competitive with that of other drugs, says Stephen Katz. Products based on cannabis that can help pets cost between 20 and 40 dollars a month (between 18 and 27 euros, approximately). This New Yorker works as a veterinarian in the borough of the Bronx, where he treats pit bulls suffering from allergies and anxiety when separated from their owners: "Some scratch so much that they end up touching bone," he says.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of cannabis for animals. In fact, it insists on pointing out that the few studies conducted thus far have not yielded definitive results. Thus, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe these kinds of products and, in states where marijuana remains illegal, it is out of the question. Last year there was a legislative proposal in Nevada to allow specialists to prescribe medical cannabis for pets with chronic diseases. The initiative was not ultimately successful, though consumers insist on the alleged efficacy of these products.
The root of this aversion to the use of cannabis in pets is THC: a cannabinoid able to get human consumers high, and also to poison animals. In fact, according to several US animal protection groups, since the decriminalisation of cannabis was announced, in some states there have been several cases of animals poisoned by consuming something they shouldn't have.
In fact, in recent years, the figures indicate that the numbers of pets requiring treatment for cannabis poisoning have doubled. Dogs, for example, are "especially sensitive to the effects of THC," according to Steve Blauvelt, a veterinarian in Bend, Oregon.
Failing clear results, more research is needed to confirm whether cannabis can improve the health of our pets, like it does with humans. However, it is already sometimes the last remedy enabling these lovable beings to recover their vitality.