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A Caution on the Use of Cannabinoids on Pets

The ABVMA cautions pet owners about the use of cannabinoids in pets.

The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) is urging the public not to treat companion animals with cannabinoids without first talking to their veterinarian. Veterinarians are frequently asked by animal owners about treating companion animals with cannabinoids. While there is preliminary evidence to suggest cannabinoids have the potential to be beneficial for a number of medical conditions in companion animals, research into cannabinoids and their effects on pets is limited, primarily because of legal access. Therefore, research has not kept pace with legislation.

Compounding the difficulty of research are the multiple strains of cannabis and varying chemical compositions. What’s more, research into cannabinoid receptors in companion animals is in its early stages and more work is needed to fully understand these complex systems. All these variables make it extremely difficult to safely prescribe cannabinoid products to pets.

There are many products purported to contain cannabinoids for pets but there are currently no Health Canada approved cannabis pet products on the market. Given the potential benefits, Health Canada has begun approving clinical trials to study the therapeutic implications of medical cannabinoids for pets. “We’re encouraged by the measured approach taken by Health Canada,” says the ABVMA’s Registrar, Dr. Darrell Dalton. “It’s in the best interest of pet owners, companion animals, and veterinary professionals to have legislative framework that supports industry bringing safe, efficacious, non-psychoactive products to the market that veterinarians can prescribe with confidence.”

Veterinarians are still the best resource for information regarding medical cannabinoids for companion animals. With legalization, veterinary practices across Canada have seen increased interest in medical cannabinoids for pets and, in the interests of animal health and welfare, are encouraging pet owners to engage their veterinarian, to talk about the risks, as well as the progress being made in medical cannabinoid research.

Cannabis Toxicity

Dogs are extremely sensitive to the effects of cannabis when ingested. Instances of dogs being treated for cannabis toxicity have been increasing - your pet may be exposed to cannabis outdoors, in the home, or via second hand smoke exposure. If you have cannabis in your home make sure to store it in a pet proof container, keep it out of reach, dispose of waste appropriately, and keep an eye out when in public.

The symptoms of cannabis toxicity include (from

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Wobbling
  • Sound or light sensitivity
  • Pupal dilation and or bloodshot eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Salivation
  • Rapid or slowed heartbeat
  • Lowered body temperature
  • Vocalization

If you suspect your dog has consumed cannabis, contact your veterinarian immediately.