Cannabis products for animals are becoming increasingly popular. Many accounts are emerging of pets being comforted by cannabis-derived tinctures and edibles. Veterinarians are calling for more clinical research on cannabis medicine for pets, and despite a shift in public attitude toward cannabis, the topic is still entangled in controversy.
The Smoke Reports team feels the community deserves a look at the science, the obstacles, and the future of cannabis therapy for pets.
Earlier this month at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo in Los Angeles, Alison Ettel gave a presentation on the benefits that cannabis may provide for ailing pets. Ettel is the founder of TreatWell, a cannabis company producing full-plant extract tinctures that focus on consistent cannabinoid ratios for accurate dosing.
TreatWell’s line of pet products includes tinctures for both small and large pets. We had the chance to discuss the current situation with Ettel and get an inside look into the cannabis industry for pets.
The Scientific Potentials of Cannabis Therapy for Pets
The endocannabinoid system is a complex system of receptors that is found in humans, cats, dogs, and many other animals including some birds, reptiles, and possibly insects. Humans have been connected with cannabis for thousands of years, but only in the last few decades have we been uncovering the science behind the endocannabinoid system and how it interacts with the other systems in our bodies.
There is more than enough anecdotal evidence that cannabis promotes wellness, but the scientific community has been unable to perform significant clinical trials because of prohibitive legal hurdles.
Our pets also have these endocannabinoid systems, and many people are reporting that their animals also benefit greatly from cannabinoid therapy. There are groups preparing clinical studies of cannabis therapy for domesticated animals, but there is still a lot of debate due to an overall lack of data.
Pet Health is a Major Industry Already
The legal cannabis industry is blossoming from its infancy. The pet industry on the other hand has always been huge. We spend a lot of money on our animals, especially when it comes to medication and trips to the vet. It is no surprise that the intersection between cannabis and pet health is getting a lot of attention from both businesses and concerned pet owners.
During her presentation, Alison Ettel discussed how 65% of American households own pets, with a total of 86 million cats and 78 million dogs. Pet ownership is a big responsibility and many people will tell you that their furry friends are actually family members.
When pets get sick, it is our responsibility as caregivers to help them feel comfortable and get healthier. Cannabis is making a splash in recent conversations on pet medicine, although historically cannabis for pets and livestock is nothing new.
TreatWell: Ratio-Specific Cannabis Medicine for Humans and Pets
Our team at Smoke Reports loves giving recognition to upstanding organizations that are committed to quality cannabis information and products. TreatWell definitely makes the list of companies that are concerned with the longterm effectiveness and consistency of their medicine. In our conversation with Alison Ettel, we were given a full breakdown of why TreatWell began creating cannabis medicine for pets, and the results that pets are experiencing.
TreatWell is very conscious of the effectiveness of different cannabinoid ratios. Just like humans, animals each have a unique endocannabinoid system, so there is no standardization for dosing or ratios when it comes to pet medicine.
Cannabis medicine for pets gets even more complicated when you take into account that animals have different metabolisms from our own. Ettel aims to give pet owners a consistent medicine that will allow them to safely and effectively provide their animals relief.
TreatWell provides the community with pet tinctures of two different CBD:THC ratios (20:1 and 1:1) that are available in two different potencies to provide for both small and large pets. Both tinctures are derived from top shelf cannabis flowers with specific cannabinoid ratios and terpenes intact to optimize cannabis synergy.
Many pet medicines do not actually contain THC and are derived from fibrous hemp. While more research is of course needed, anecdotal evidence shows that pets respond more effectively to the synergistic effects of different cannabinoids and terpenes, just like humans do.
TreatWell’s 20:1 tincture (CBD:THC) for pets is non-psychoactive, and meant to target anxiety, arthritis, mild pain, inflammation issues and seizures. There has been a particular amount of positive evidence of effective relief for cats suffering from pancreatitis.
The 1:1 tincture (CBD:THC) is non-psychoactive in small doses, but does have equal amounts of CBD and THC, which requires extra vigilance when medicating your pets. The 1:1 tincture targets appetite stimulation, cancer, severe pain, end of life comfort, and skin conditions when applied as a topical.
The Small Pet Tinctures contain 75 total milligrams of cannabinoids and the Large Pet Tinctures contain 300 total milligrams of cannabinoids. Ettel suggests that you begin medicating your pet with very low doses at night and slowly build up to their minimum effective dose.
This requires pet owners to live in tune with their animal while finding the perfect dose. Cats and dogs can’t tell us that they are uncomfortable, and signs of intoxication can mean too much THC.
The Dangers of Cannabis Overdosing
Animals can certainly have adverse reactions to cannabis. While cannabis is not directly fatal to pets, it is still very important to their health that they do not overdose. The most common effect of cannabis on pets is sleepiness, but this generally goes away as the pet gains a higher tolerance to the medicine.
Animals respond faster and stronger to cannabis due to their receptors having a high affinity for binding with cannabinoids. Severe toxicity symptoms include drooling, loss of motor skills, anxiety, and disorientation. Take your pet to a veterinarian for assistance if your pet is experiencing any severe symptoms from ingesting too much cannabis.
False Medical Language Leads to Warnings from the FDA
In late February of 2015, the FDA issued several warning letters to cannabis producers making medicine for pets. The manufacturing companies were cited for claiming that these medicines (unapproved by the FDA) were capable of cure, mitigation, and prevention of diseases and conditions in animals.
The FDA tested many of these products and found that in some, there was absolutely no presence of any cannabinoid. The FDA does not approve cannabidiol (CBD) for diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of medical conditions, but recent anecdotal evidence has been giving many people confidence that cannabis does have wellness properties.
The FDA pointed out in its letters to these companies that cannabinoid medicine cannot advertise healing effects, especially if there aren’t even traces of cannabinoids in the product.
The letters were sent to producers in Washington, California, and Arizona. Even companies that did not receive the latter went ahead and adjusted their marketing language to stay away from false advertising. Unfortunately, the negative press that was doled out to companies producing pet medicine may have a lasting effect on the willingness of people attempting to heal their pets with cannabis.
Veteranarians Want More Cannabis Research
The future of cannabis medicine for pets will likely be a major portion of the cannabis industry. Just like with human consumption of cannabis, we are currently operating without strong clinical studies when we provide our pets with cannabis medicine. Still, anecdotal evidence from pet owners who care deeply about their animals points once again to the healing properties of cannabis.
Veterinarians are calling for clinical studies to be conducted on the medical efficacy of cannabis in pets, but these studies are subject to the same tedious obstacles that cannabis research has been forced to overcome.
The future of cannabinoid medicine, for both humans and pets, relies on our community’s unwavering demand that the government recognize the importance of scientific research to substantiate the medical benefits of cannabis.
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