Pets On Pot: The New Frontier For Medical Use
3 min

Pets On Pot: The New Frontier For Medical Use

3 min

Cannabis treatments are becoming increasingly popular for ailing pets. What, where and how to start.

It’s easy to laugh when you first hear the idea. Pets on ganja? No way!

Laugh no more. It’s a growing trend, just about everywhere. From the august pages of The New York Times to vets besieged with requests, pet owners are coming to the rapid conclusion that if pot works for people, it might just help Spot or Bubbles too.

While it still has gotten a great deal less attention than the battle for overall legalization (for people), there is widespread support and a growing movement to include pets in medical reform. People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) an anti-animal cruelty non-profit, has also advocated that marijuana reform include marijuana reform for animals.



Last year, a bill to enact exactly that got a great deal of traction in the U.S. state of Nevada before the legislature killed it (at least temporarily). But in the rush for legalization, it is clear that people don’t want to leave their pets out of the reform revolution.

It is also not unheard of for pet owners to apply for medical marijuana cards in U.S. states that require them, not for themselves but for their pets.

Vets are still not allowed officially to prescribe this kind of medication or treatment – and no official veterinary organization has taken a stance one way or another. That said, the anecdotal evidence is growing that certain kinds of cannabinoids work just as well for animals as they do for children.


Not surprisingly, since all mammals have endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the body, pot works on sick and under the weather animals just as it does on people. However, before you rush out to feed your dog a pile of weed, or sprinkle buds in kitty’s food, it is best to understand how to do it. Pets can get very sick and have extremely bad reactions to a lot of the stuff that works for humans.

CBD for pets

Animal treatments overwhelmingly focus on CBD. THC is not recommended for animal consumption. Most vets who do prescribe cannabinoids overwhelmingly prescribe only this cannabinoid – which can most easily be derived from hemp.

In terms of administration, both vets and pet owners also overwhelmingly report that tinctures and oils work best for animal use. If curious, research on the internet for the kinds of medicaments that are commercially available for pets already and what treatments if not actual products work best for animal ailments. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, a cannabinoid regime appears to halt animal seizures.

There are no studies (yet) on either specific treatments or recommended doses although it is likely that animal research, like research for people is just over the horizon.

Businesses are also taking note. Pot for pets is, as a result, a growing industry, particularly in the United States, where the medical industry is taking off. And it’s not just in sales of the buds themselves, but pot products. Concerned pet owners are increasingly able to avail themselves of cannapet products that range from oils to dog chews, mostly to treat movement disorders and reclusive pets who have arthritis. But there are more and more pet owners who are applying cannabis oils they buy commercially for other uses. Pet owners are reporting that topical administration is particularly good for skin rashes.


Animal cannabis research


While there is a silver lining to the trend, there are also a lot of don’ts. Cannabis sativa affects the nervous system of all mammals. For all the glowing reports of rejuvenated animals, there are just as many if not more reports of horses, pigs and dogs becoming severely ill if not dying after ingesting cannabis.


Dead dog


The most common side effects of ingestion in pets are depression, loss of balance or coordination, vomiting and hypothermia. It can also cause drooling, diarrhoea, allergic reactions, incontinence and seizures. The toxic effects of cannabis can start up to half an hour after ingestion and often last for at least half a day. However they can go on for longer than this because THC is stored in fat.

If you think your pet has ingested cannabis, take them to a vet as soon as possible. Be honest. Vets are not obligated to report this kind of poisoning.

The best treatment for marijuana toxicity in animals is activated charcoal. This can also be purchased at most drug stores and food stores. If you are a regular user and have animals around, it might be a good idea to stock up and keep some on hand “just in case”.


It is hard to find information about recommended guidelines. Before administering anything, however, it is best to consult a vet. While this is almost as under-researched as pot for humans, there are vets who are now advertising that they treat sick animals with cannabis. Drop them an email. Go slow.

If desperate, start with straight hemp oils (now available legally in over-the-counter form in most European countries). Start with small amounts in food or on chews and see what works. According to one vet in New York City, dogs up to 20 pounds should get doses of no more than 3mg at a time. Larger dogs (up to 50kg) can tolerate doses of up to 7mg.

Given the choice between euthanasia for ailing animals, however, and experimentation with a wonder drug that is always in the headlines these days, it is hardly surprising that pet owners with under the weather animals will try to get their paws on pot.


Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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