Medical marijuana (or cannabis) has been used for thousands of years across many cultures. More recently, cannabis is used to effectively treat symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions in humans. Use of medical marijuana is controversial.
Cannabis, CBD & THC
There’s quite a bit of confusion about the terms used when it comes to using components of the medical marijuana plant for pets. Cannabis sativa is a general plant name. There are many different strains of this plant. Some strains are used to make the federally illegal marijuana. Others are used to make hemp for industrial and therapeutic use.The cannabis plant that makes industrial hemp differs from the plant that makes medicinal hemp. In general, cannabis plants contain both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). These are both medicinal compounds. CBD alone does not cause a “high.” The “high” is caused by THC, which is the psychoactive component. Products made with less than 0.3% THC are legal in all 50 states.
How can medical marijuana help your cat?
Medical marijuana can help with a wide variety of conditions because hemp naturally contains compounds which affect the endocannabinoid system, an internal pathway found in mammals. Nearly every tissue contains receptors which respond to the components found in cannabis, acting separately but holistically with the body’s other receptor systems.
- Control chronic pain & inflammation associated with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and FIC/FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease)
- Act as a neuroprotective agent reducing seizure frequency and intensity
- Decrease nausea and stimulate appetite
- Reduce cancer-associated symptoms
- Aid in decreasing severity of dementia
- Reduce bronchial spasms in asthmatics
- Lower anxiety thus increasing focus during training sessions
- Support the immune system for conditions like food allergies and immune-mediated diseases
In most cases, medical marijuana is not designed to be the sole treatment. It works best when given in conjunction with other treatments, and often allows reduction in medications that may have significant undesirable side effects. Hemp has no known negative interactions with other medications or supplements.
Does medical marijuana have any side effects?
Your cat will not get high from cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC, because these products focus on the non-THC portions of the plant that seem to have the best benefit without giving animals the high that recreational users seek. In higher concentrations, THC can be toxic to dogs and cats. That is one reason why you should never blow marijuana smoke in your pet’s face or administer human medical grade cannabis to pets.
The most common side effect is mild lethargy, which usually subsides in 3-4 days. A less common side effect is softer stools and an increased bowel movement frequency. Cannabis products that use the whole plant will have a high fiber content, this may cause problems in sensitive cats. A lower dose usually resolves the fiber sensitivity issue. Rarely, vomiting or increased skin itchiness are seen, which would require discontinuing the use of cannabis-based products.
Are cannabis products for pets legal?
Unlike human medical marijuana, which is governed by state law (currently, 30 states have passed laws that allow medical marijuana use), cannabis products designed for pets are supplements and meet the current definition of hemp supplements under Unites States federal law.
What is Canna Companion?
Drs. Sarah Brandon and Greg Copas, two Seattle veterinarians, pioneered the use of medical marijuana for pets two years ago. They developed Canna Companion, a hemp-based supplement for pets. I had a chance to speak with both of them at Global Pet Expo, and I was fascinated by the many possible uses of this natural supplement for cats.
Canna Conmpanion is a unique blend of Cannabis sativa strains, frequently referred to as hemp, designed to enhance the medical benefits of the cannabis plant while minimizing the ‘high-inducing’ concentrations of THC. Each capsule contains a combination of phytocannabinoids, the main group of compounds in hemp, terpenes which help to modulate phytocannabinoids, and flavonoids, potent anti-inflammatories which are found in a wide variety of foods we and our pets eat. The capsules also contain omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and vitamin B6, the latter of which increases bioavailability. All of these ingredients are naturally found in the cannabis plant.
Canna Companion is manufactured in Washington State. For more information, and to purchase, please visit http://www.CannaCompanionUSA.com.
The remarkable “side benefits” of Canna Companion and other cannabis products
When I spoke with Dr. Brandon, she shared an experience with three cats with me that is a testament to the benefits of Canna Companion. “We started our product for these older kitties with joint discomfort,” said Brandon. “They also had histories of FIC (feline interstitial cystitis – as diagnosed by their veterinarians). All responded well regarding their joint aches but the surprise came after 2 months of supplementation: their FIC symptoms resolved.” Brandon said she can’t be sure whether this was due to less stress due to more comfortable mobility or if there were direct anti-inflammatory actions on the bladder from the cannabinoids. “None the less,” adds Brandon, “the cats are now more comfortable and their quality of life has improved on many levels, which is all we wanted for them.”
How to find a reputable cannabis product for pets
Under current law, unlike physicians, who can recommend (but not prescribe) cannabis for their human patients, veterinarians in all states are legally prevented from giving pet parents advice on the use of medical cannabis. This makes it challenging for pet parents to find reputable products among the slew of new companies entering this growing market. Green State, a digital magazine navigating the new cannabis culture, has a comprehensive article on what veterinarians think about the safety and benefits of cannabis for pets.
I’m as excited about the possibilities this safe and natural supplement offers for helping cats with a variety of conditions as Dr. Brandon. “The future of cannabis in the cat world is quite positive,” says Brandon. “I believe within 2-3 years it will be a commonly offered option in veterinary hospitals for pain and inflammation reduction, neurological conditions and mild behavioral concerns. Cannabis is not a cure-all and we certainly don’t advocate discontinuation of prescribed medications without consulting your cat’s veterinarian.. None the less, it does have its place in the feline world and we’ll see more of it as time goes on.”
Would you consider using medical marijuana for your cats?