Marijuana may be legal for humans, but that doesn’t mean we should be giving it to our pets.

Marijuana became legal on October 17th, and we noticed that many people have questions regarding its use and if it may be beneficial in helping their pet’s ailment.

Marijuana contains various levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) depending on if it’s for recreational use or medicinal purposes. Both types can lead to toxicity in pets. However, it is more common with recreational marijuana due to the higher levels of THC. Marijuana is not safe for pets as they are more sensitive to its effects than humans. If ingested it can lead to many negative effects on the body including but not limited to stupor, incoordination of walking, decreased heart rate, hypothermia, hypotension, tremors and seizures and they will often require intensive hospitalization and supportive care. We recommend that all pets don’t have access to marijuana.

What about using cannabinoid (CBD) oil or hemp oil for pets? Currently, no Health Canada approved products are containing CBD for pets. This means that we as veterinarians cannot prescribe it. Veterinary products containing hemp are approved and available for sale, and these tend to be of low risk. Please check these products for either a drug identification number (DIN) or veterinary health product (VHP) number. There are many unapproved, and unregulated products on the market that may not be safe due to insufficient quality control and testing and use of these products are risky and may lead to toxicity.

Currently, the role of CBD products in the veterinary industry is unknown, and as of now, there is not enough research and evidence to support its use safely. Remember that dogs and cats are not small humans. We would never reach for a drug or medication that hasn’t undergone rigorous safety testing and measures, so why start with marijuana and take that risk?

Written By: Dr. Niki Low, DVM