People are crazy for CBD these days. Writing about CBD draws attention like writing about blockchain technology or Taylor Swift. Have no fear, we will not be writing about Taylor Swift anytime soon unless she starts smoking weed where everyone can see it. Hey, listen, we love everything weed here at TNMNews and we want all of the miracle stories where CBD has helped people suffering from seizures, chronic pain or even fight cancer, to be true. And, we want real scientists across the world to provide clinical evidence of its efficacy so there are no more arguments. But, if you ask the question; can my dog overdose on weed? You may not love what the evidence shows so far.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), yes they can. The association put out a report in January, Cannabis: What Veterinarians Need to Know, which explains that a number of young dogs have died from a condition they refer to as marijuana toxicosis. The report states, “While relatively few deaths have been reported in relation to marijuana exposure, those that have occurred have appeared to be related to complications from toxicosis rather than the marijuana itself. These complications are commonly due to asphyxiation from vomiting.”
Some young dogs have died because some people have left their chocolate or candy marijuana infused edibles out where their dogs can get it. Dogs have great noses if you haven’t heard. The real problem seems to be this toxicosis thing. We are not saying dogs and other pets cannot benefit from cannabis, in fact it seems very likely that pets should be able to benefit from cannabis in some way. They have an endocannabinoid system, all animals do, and there are all sorts of stories being told and even shown to people via social media about CBD oils quelling seizure attacks in dogs. But, there is an inherent danger all pet owners should be conscious of before giving their dogs marijuana in any form.
Dr. Emily Iacobucci, a veterinarian at the Kodiak Veterinary Hospital in Alaska with a Certificate in Global Animal Health had this to say when we asked about giving cannabis to pets. “I think it’s important for people to realize that dogs and cats are not little people. We are very similar but when it comes to physiology, a different receptor type on a cell can make a huge difference.” Traditionally, pet owners give dogs struggling with insomnia, car sickness, anxiety and allergies different forms of over-the-counter Diphenhydramine, which is a generic term for Benadryl. Stronger medications can be attained through a veterinarian such as Fluoxetine and even Benzodiazepines, but just like opioid-based drugs for people, many pet owners are reluctant to give their pets these drugs in fear of side-effects and possibly shortening what is already considered a short life. The reality is that those drugs have gone through countless tests. According to the results, should a pet owner follow the dosing instructions exactly, then a pet should be fine taking them.
The current trend towards natural and organic products includes dog and cat owners that want their little furry friends to be organic just like them. CBD pet products are being marketed as all-natural and if you add that to the current popularity of cannabis products, it is creating a whole new dimension to the pet industry. The CBD industry is anticipated to grow to $2.1 billion by 2020 according to the Hemp Business Journal. However, it is not a dimension of pet health that veterinarians are willing to embrace quite yet. As a Schedule 1 substance, it is illegal for vets to prescribe CBD products, and the lack of peer reviewed evidence supporting the medicinal value of cannabis for dogs and cats continues to leave many of them understandably skeptical.
Dogs can suffer seizures just like people and some owners have found that CBD oils can be an anticonvulsant. Epidiolex was approved by the FDA earlier this year to treat human epilepsy, and it is the first marijuana derived drug to ever be approved by the FDA. But, what works well for a human does not mean it will work well for canines. The AVMA report offers guidance to vets about cannabis and pets. According to the report, “CB1 receptors are found on neurons and in the GI tract, causing release of GABA (inhibitory neurotransmitter). High concentrations of receptors are present in the canine cerebellum.” While dogs may have an endocanninoid system, they are unable to metabolize CBD or THC as quickly as the human body can.
Pet owners tend to be familiar with the fact that chocolate and raisins can be toxic to dogs. As an example, there is a compound found in chocolate and cocoa called theobromine that people have no problem metabolizing, but dogs do. When a dog consumes a great deal of chocolate, theobromines can build up to toxic levels. “Baking chocolate and dark chocolate have higher theobromine levels than say milk or white chocolate. So we take into account the type of chocolate, how much, and the size of the patient. It might just cause diarrhea, or diarrhea and vomiting, or if it is high enough it can cause seizures and stop the heart,” Dr. Iacobucci explained to TNMNews.
A person could gorge themselves on dark chocolate all night long and wake up with nothing more than a stomach ache. A dog that consumes the same amount of chocolate may not wake up at all the next morning. The real problem seems to be marijuana edibles. The combination of marijuana with other substances that are toxic to dogs apparently endangers dogs even further. Cannabis edibles such as chocolate bars or gummies infused with cannabis concentrates are growing in popularity. According to the AVMA report, “The majority of [marijuana toxicosis] cases reported have occurred in young dogs (less than 1 year old), although cases have also been recorded in cats. Toxicosis in dogs is most commonly associated with edibles, often those made with chocolate.” If you include a dog’s indiscretion when it comes to its diet, it may end up ingesting the packaging as well making the dangers all that much worse.
Many CBD brands are being criticized for being inconsistent about the amount of CBD that can be found in the product. Numerous studies have shown that levels of CBD often do not match what are on the label, which is dangerous especially for pet owners that are trying to dose CBD to their dogs. Adults are commonly advised to make sure they are storing any cannabis products they may purchase, or make at home, in a safe area out of the reach of children, and apparently that should apply to their pets as well. If cannabis was to be rescheduled here in the United States, pet owners around the country would likely be able to administer cannabis products to their dogs in a much safer way with the knowledge that comes with advanced rigorous research.
“We have DEA licenses too so we have to follow federal guidelines,” explains Dr. Iacobucci. “If there is potential in marijuana for animal medicinal use, it is up to the public to keep voicing their desire for more research. Research and regulation gives your vet the confidence to say if any drug product is safe and worth your money – it is no different with CBD.” So, let’s hope that our furry little friends can benefit as much from CBD as people can, but in the meantime please be careful with your pets and any form of cannabis, especially if it is the edible kind.