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Prescribing marijuana for pets

Q: Marijuana is legal in my state for medicinal and recreational use. My dog has osteoarthritis, and I want to give him cannabidiol, a marijuana derivative. However, my veterinarian won’t recommend a dose. How can I convince her?

A: Marijuana may be legal in your state, but the federal government still classifies it as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin, LSD, peyote and Ecstasy. Schedule I drugs “have no currently accepted medical use,” so veterinarians generally are prohibited from prescribing them.

Even if it were legal to recommend marijuana, veterinarians are uncertain about how it should be used, since few studies have been done in dogs. That minimal research suggests that the cannabidiol (CBD) component of marijuana may be effective in osteoarthritis and a few other conditions. However, canine dosages, side effects, and drug interactions are not yet clear.

Marijuana, the dried Cannabis plant, contains CBD, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and over 100 other cannabinoid chemicals. While THC is psychoactive, CBD is not, and it is showing the most promise in medicine.

Until more is known about CBD and it becomes legal, follow your veterinarian’s advice regarding other treatments for your dog’s arthritis.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com

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