Cannabis for your pet. Is cannabis/ CBD really safe for animals?
A few years ago many people would have thought it crazy to even consider giving your pets any products made from cannabis. These days there are lots of people doing it. The USA seem to be leading the way in canine cannabis culture, with surprisingly strong advice from some people to use CBD (cannabidiol) for dogs and other animals.
CBD and cannabis. Good for both human and animal health?
The benefits claimed for animal health are much the same as those claimed by humans who take CBD oil. Perhaps that’s not too surprising since mammals often share similar responses to drugs and other chemicals. That’s the main reason that pharmaceutical companies spend so much money conducting controversial drug tests on animals. Many of the claims for the value of CBD comes from owners of older animals, especially elderly dogs who can suffer with joint issues, bowel problems as well as the usual aches and pains of old age. Some people claim that CBD can calm pets e.g. during firework displays or thunderstorms.
Strong anti-CBD views remain
However not all veterinary advice is in favor of the use of CBD for animals. The main anti-CBD arguments are that accurate dosing is unknown and that no serious scientific studies have been conducted. Some concerns have been raised about possible adverse interactions between CBD and general pet medications. These are good enough reasons for many people to urge caution regarding the use of CBD with pets. CBD oils are now widely available in many countries, online or from high street health food stores.
Hemp, CBD and nutrition
Many argue that the calls for caution when it comes to CBD and animals are an over-reaction. After all, CBD is found abundantly in hemp. Hemp, and hemp products have been used historically as food crops for cattle and other animals. Hemp is famously easy to grow even in poor soil conditions. Hemp is rich in vital nutrients such as omega fatty acids. It is also rich in fat, protein and is a valuable source of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus. Plans are already underway in Colorado to use now legal USA Hemp crops to be used in animal feed. Experts are looking at different ways of using hemp as an animal feed. The raw green foliage can be dried as feed. The highly nutritious hemp seeds can be crushed and used in feed pellets. Most interestingly of all is the suggestion of using the hemp oil as a supplement. Hemp oil, of course, is rich in CBD. So are the recommendations not to risk giving your pets CBD simply a case of over-cautiousness?
Hemp as future fish food?
Hemp is a rich source of omega fatty acids, vital for fish health. Usually fish source the omega-3 intake from algae. Using hemp in fish feed for allows the fish a direct source of richer omega-3. The use of hemp in fish food would benefit those that keep fish as pets, and those that farm fish commercially. An application has already been formally submitted for large scale testing of hemp fish food. The project is expected to cost up to $10 million. But since the 2018 Farm Bill, interest in hemp farming is at an all time high in the USA and the rest of the world. Much of this interest is due to the potential as hemp to be a fast-growing and highly versatile animal food crop which can grow well even in low-grade agricultural soil. Of course, many human hemp fans are also hoping that hemp can also become a major food crop to support the growing human population. Hemp seeds have been used for many years as bird feed and animal bedding (e.g. for horses). The same hemp nutrition could be valuable for humans in a world where farm land is shrinking with each generation.
CBD safety in pets and people
Given the confidence that currently exists in the nutritional value of hemp for animals and humans, many feel that the risks of giving CBD to animals/pets is very low. It is also worth noting that, prior to human laws, animals would naturally graze on hemp fields. Many feel that the concerns about use of hemp for animal/pet feeds is largely a legacy result of prohibition-era hysteria and government over-reaction. As the use of cannabis products has become more and more legal for human use, concerns about safety of hemp for animals is likely to slowly fade.
What about giving THC rich cannabis to your pets?
Some people have given THC-rich cannabis oil to their ill pets. Sometimes as cannabis oil in their food when their pet has been very ill and in pain. CBD oil has no psychoactive high, whereas cannabis oil can contain high levels of THC. Not surprisingly, few veterinary specialists are willing to public condone THC use with animals. No matter how well intended. That’s because it is difficult to know how much is a therapeutic dose. It’s also difficult to understand how your pet would cope with the feelings of a THC-rich psychoactive high. Dogs can find it difficult to coordinate limb movement, and may become hypersensitive to noise and touch. However, given the incredible range of medical applications of cannabis in humans, it seems logical to expect that one day serious research will take place with THC in animals.