Cannabis for Dogs?!
All of our hearts start to ache as we begin to watch our once hyper and energetic Dogs start to show signs of aging. It starts with less frequent jumps onto the bed or slower paced morning walks. But as the signs of their age become increasingly apparent, we all jump into panic mode and search all the routes to finding cures for their pain and discomfort. Cannabis doesn't turn your dog into a puppy again, but it has health benefits that have been shown to improve a dog's quality of life.
For the last few years we have all seen the amazing effects that medical marijuana has had on humans suffering from seizures, cancer, anxiety, and a plethora of other symptoms. With legalization in many states throughout the United States, more research is coming out on the positive benefits of this drug. The mass public has less of an idea on how great this substance can be for our canine companions, but as research continues, there are many studies showing that medical cannabis has great health benefits for our Pups as well (Semigran, 2017)!
What is CBD?
Components within the cannabis plant are called cannabinoids. THC is the most popular and spoken-about cannabinoid, but there is also CBG (cannabigerol), CBL (cannabicyclol), CBT (cannabicitran), and of course, CBD (cannabidiol). There are different plants within the Cannabis family, the most familiar of which being the marijuana plant that has buds which produce about 5-10% THC. The plant that derives the CBD used as medicine comes from the Hemp plant. This plant only contains 0.05-1% THC and is high in CBD. CBD is able to block the effects of THC within the brain to keep from the psychoactive effects that most think of when they think about marijuana (Franciosi, 2017).
Are dogs going to get high?
Cannabidiol - CBD - is a great substance with many health and medical benefits without giving the feeling of being "Stoned". CBD is produced to minimize the amount of THC (the substance that creates a "high") while maximizing the count of CBD (the substance that prevents a "high"). Although there is a minuscule amount of THC found in CBD, the CBD can counteract any effect that THC can have within the brain.
The brain is made up of millions of neurons that help understand sights, smells, pain, and everything to do with life itself. Many of these neurons sit dormant depending on what is going on around you or inside your body. There are receptors in our brains called cannabinoid receptor (CB1). This neuron is only activated with the presence of a cannabinoid molecule. To make it easier to understand, we can picture neurons as electric outlets on a wall. THC and CBD can be considered as plugs that are put into those outlets. When THC is plugged into the outlet, it has effects throughout the body, such as a feeling of euphoria, relaxation and decreased anxiety. Since cannabidiol (CBD) has a high amount of CBD and very low amount of THC, the CBD molecules will plug into the outlet, keeping THC from getting "plugged in" (Franciosi, 2017).
How can Cannabis help my dog?
Cannabis has been found to treat seizures, stress, nausea, anxiety, arthritis, back & joint pain, gastrointestinal issues, symptoms of cancer, and many other health conditions in dogs. They do so by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors (mentioned earlier) within the brain and modulates things like pain, anxiety and nausea. Unlike prescription drugs given to dogs, medical CBD has been found to have no life-threatening side effects as long as it is taken in proper doses.
There are also veterinarians who have found that CBD can help treat small ailments such as sprains, torn ligaments, and bone breaks as well as helping with post-op care such as reducing swelling, pain and stiffness (Henriques, 2017).