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Pets and Cannabis: How to Medicate Man’s Best Friend

Many cannabis consumers who own pets know all too well the effects of cannabis medicine on their dogs and cats. For instance, it is not an infrequent phenomenon in Colorado where an owner misplaces a peanut butter medicated edible on the edge of a table only to return to a torn up “child safe” container with a chewed up wrapper the next time they come back. The dog, though not in danger of dying (unless she consumed a large quantity of chocolate), is unbalanced, dry heaving and frothing at the mouth. Panicked and frightened (as any pet owner should be) the owner calls the vet, gets the dog’s stomach pumped with charcoal, and suffers a $500 bill. The dog, after a few hours of confusion and distress, is ready to eat copious amounts of food.

Cannabis, in the same form as it is ingested for humans, is very dangerous for pets. In other mammals, like cats and dogs, ingestion of activated THC can result in a condition known as ataxia. Ataxia is a sensory dysfunction that produces loss of coordination between the brain, limbs and the trunk of the animal. Thus, when a dog (more commonly than cats) eat activated cannabis, such as a store-bought edible, they will wobble uncontrollably, fall down repeatedly and put themselves in danger of injuring themselves. Animals suffering from ataxia will tend to lean and shake as if weak in the legs. Additionally, animals’ evolutionary response to a toxin is to throw up. However, cannabis is an antiemetic medicine and usually prevents the ability to vomit. Long story short: Unfortunately, there is very little evidence that supports cannabis as we take it is good for pet health and well being . Even in small amounts, activated THC can adversely effect pets for unpredictable durations.

Despite the horror stories of pets and edibles, there is hope! CBD enriched dog treats are now marketed to individuals seeking to improve the health of their pets. CBD has been endorsed by veterinarians in Canada, Washington and New York as a safe supplement for pet nutrition because it has been demonstrated to be completely nonpsychoactive, a potent antioxidant, and as a neuroprotector. One such company that is looking to supply this alternative medicine to ailing dogs is Auntie Delores out of California. Their pet treats, called Treatibles, in the form of an oat and rice flower based biscuit, contain 1mg of activated CBD each. A pack of 10 treats, each about the size of an animal cracker, costs $22. At a suggested dosage of 1mg per 10 pounds of body weight, and with instructions to administer them hourly on a daily basis, this can be a bit costly, especially for a large breed.  It is anticipated that CBD will become more widely available and affordable as hemp gains the legal status to distribute around the country.  Imported hemp products from other countries still dominate the CBD market and many of those products are reviewed to have variable results.

The most important part in making health decisions on behalf of your pets is safety. Cheaply produced pet treats, especially from China, kill and sicken hundreds of pets in the United States every year. Just as in humans, nutrition is the first step to a healthy existence. If your pet is acting lethargic, unexcited or acting older than it should for no apparent reason, often times it doesn’t take any medicine at all to improve the happiness of your pet. Check the ingredients of the dog food you regularly purchase. Dogs should avoid all grains, corn, potatoes, preservatives, and sugars. Even oat flower, for which Treatibles are based, aren’t recommended in large amounts. Veterinarians and pet health advocates recommend to switch from supermarket kibble (just read the ingredients!) to a diet of raw, dehydrated food. There are numerous pet health stores in Boulder County that are happy to assist you with the best options for your budget. CBD could treat a number of issues in pet health, but while it is expensive and hard to obtain, start with your pet’s nutrition to see quick and amazing results.

There is anecdotal evidence that supports the use of inactivated THC, or THCa, for pet health. Because humans and most mammals lack an essential enzyme that metabolizes the psychoactive properties of raw cannabis– This is why we cook or smoke cannabis to feel the effect– raw cannabis can be a very nutritional supplement to you and your pet’s diet. THCa is non psychoactive and has demonstrated to be effective against inflammation, neurological pain and cancer. Because there are no documented side effects of nonpsychoactive components of cannabis in humans or animals, they are generally regarded as safe to use in whatever amount with no documented possibility of overdose. With that said, there needs to be greater research done to qualify these claims and there are risks to be considered.
However you decide to treat your animals, make sure it is from a place of love and empathy. Pets are people too so treat them as you would treat yourself. Know the risks involved and be patient. For more information or answers to your questions, visit Green Dream Health Services, your best resource for hand raised cannabis.

*** NOTE: This has not been reviewed for medical efficacy and by no means should this be taken as medical advice. Review the following preparation as independent from anything related to medical conditions or symptom relief. You should always consult a licensed medical veterinarian before administering any medication or even changing your pets’ diet.  DO NOT ADMINISTER TO PETS WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL or VETERINARY CONSULTATION!

To prepare a nonpsychoactive, glycerin based tincture using raw cannabis, dissolve raw material, fresh or dry, into vegetable glycerin.

What you need:

1 oz eye droppers (the amount needed will vary)
Vegetable glycerin (again the amount needed will vary)
Raw cannabis with high THCa and low THC (your budtender will know)
Liquid measuring cup or container easy to pour
60 days to prepare tincture

The process:

1) Fill a small jar with crushed or powdered raw flowers. Then fill the jar with glycerin until the material is covered. Be sure to record the amount of materials used.

2) Let rest for 60 days, shaking once every few days to make sure everything is covered equally.

3) Squeeze out solution using cheesecloth into a container easy to pour. Dispose of solids. Divide the liquid into equal amounts into eyedropper bottles.
To dose (keep in mind as a rudimentary, homemade recipe this may vary), multiply the amount of THC by the total amount of material used. For instance, Bruce Banner from Green Dream Health Services tests at 25% THCa. So. .25 x 1000 mg (1 gram) of material = 250 mg THCa. Then divide that amount by the amount of glycerin used. For instance, 250 mg THCa / 4 oz (120 ml) glycerin = 2 mg THCa per ml of glycerin.
Eachdropper-full from a standard 1 oz eyedropper bottle administers around 1 ml of liquid, or 20 drops per squirt. So to the above equation, each squirt from the bottle would yield 2 mg THCa. Testing this is virtually impossible at home so keep an open mind and shoot lower than higher as far as a dose is concerned.

Use the lowest effective dose possible and adjust the recipe accordingly. For example, adjusting the material used to 2 grams instead of 1 would yield 4 mg per eyedropper squirt. 4 mg per eyedropper squirt can also be achieved by lowering the amount of glycerin to 2 oz. Coordinate how many 1 oz eye dropper bottles are needed with the amount of glycerin and material used.  After a few tries you will have the process rehearsed and be allowed to experiment with greater ease.