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Medical Marijuana and Pet Pain Treatment - Precautions, Methods and Legality

Medical Marijuana and Pet Pain Treatment - Precautions, Methods and Legality

Cannabis is known for its relaxing, hunger inducing, and pain reducing properties. Like humans, there is some evidence that animals with chronic pain may also benefit from cannabis infused diets. Some healthcare professionals recommend medical marijuana for cancers, epileptic disorders, digestive problems, nervous system issues and other chronic illnesses. Though first legalized in 1996 by the State of California, medical marijuana gained incredible popularity after Colorado approved its recreational use in 2012. Also, thanks to the holistic and “green” movement, medical marijuana is now becoming an option for pets suffering from physical ailments.

There is some evidence that animals with chronic pain, like humans, may benefit from marijuana-infused diets.


3-3 Pet owners who wish to attempt medical marijuana treatments are encouraged to do so with extreme caution. This means recording responses from your pet and using minimal dosages as to avoid overdose and negative side effects. Since pets can’t communicate how they’re feeling after treatment, it’s important to educate yourself on signs of overdose. Indicators may include swaying back and forth, agitation, widened eyes, paralysis, and excessive drooling. It goes without saying that animals respond to marijuana differently than humans. For example, dogs are known to be extremely sensitive to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). In fact, with recent medical marijuana legalization, many states have seen an increase in cases where pets are taken to the vet for distress caused by cannabis intake. That said, most products designed for pets contain negligent amounts of THC, instead they have a high concentration of CBD (cannabidiol). Pets respond to medical marijuana different than humans. Overdose can be EXTREMELY dangerous for your pet!


Administering the herb will depend on your animal’s breed, species, weight and health condition. Here are some of the most popular methods: 
  • Tinctures - mixed with water or food or taken orally; 
  • Edibles - provided as treats; 
  • Oils - applied to pet’s skin/fur or taken orally; 
  • Dried leaf - eaten as is.
Each method requires a different proportion of ingredients and some are stronger, allowing for the treatment to travel faster through the bloodstream. The right method for your pet may be determined by your pet’s preference. The pet’s size will be an important determinant for specific dosage as well. For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association has seen cases of improvement within the hour for a horse who ingested a small amount of marijuana as treatment. Clearly, a dog or a cat would see different results.

Before you decide on using a medical marijuana treatment for your pet, make sure to do extensive research. Start out with the smallest possible dosage to prevent any discomfort for your pet, or even overdose.

Where to Buy

Tinctures, edibles, oils, and marijuana for medical use can be purchased at dispensaries in states where medical marijuana use is legal. There are also private and public sellers online. Treatibles.com is one example. They produce CBD infused treats to relieve pets with painful and debilitating illness symptoms.


Please note that you should only consider using medical marijuana  in states where it is legal. Currently, a total of 25 states, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico allow medical marijuana. Take a look at this map to find out if medical marijuana is legal in your state. That said, there are no specific laws around the use of medical marijuana for pets. As such, it is illegal for your vet to recommend treatments that involve cannabis. In states where medical marijuana is legal, they may however advise on toxicity and discuss legal cannabis options. While lawmakers are starting to have conversations about legalizing, it has yet to be approved by the FDA.

"I don't know if it's legal for me to get medical marijuana treatment around here. But, I do know that I like this ball a lot!"

All Natural Alternatives

Medical marijuana isn’t the only way to help your pet feel better. Holistic veterinarians are a great resource to learn how herbal supplements, diets, and essential oils can ease your pet’s pain. We recommend Googling Dr. Rob Silva to learn more. As a pet owner, it’s crucial to speak with a veterinarian before starting any medical treatment plan. To make sure you’re treating your pet’s condition properly, always get a diagnosis first. Medical marijuana can be a great way to ease your pet’s symptoms, but it can also cause sickness if not used or administered correctly. It is, however, gaining growing popularity to alleviate chronic pain in both humans and animals. 

Explore different holistic treatments and talk to your vet for the safest treatment options for your dog.

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