Medical Marijuana and CBD for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

With more pet owners using hemp CBD to help their canine besties out with a myriad of health issues, many are finding that cannabis doesn’t always equal marijuana.

But while research is showing CBD derived from hemp can provide an excellent and safe solution for help with conditions such as anxiety, pain, inflammation, and epilepsy, the same can’t be necessarily said about marijuana. For people, overdosing from marijuana is exceedingly rare, and death unheard of, but our dogs are much more sensitive to the chemical that gives these plants the ability to produce a high. 

That’s why CBD companies like InnovetPet are working endlessly to get the word out about the difference between hemp CBD and medical marijuana. 

Comparing Marijuana And Hemp

Both varieties of cannabis, marijuana and hemp share the same active compounds called cannabinoids and terpenes. You can find these compounds in the resin that coats the flowers and leaves, giving cannabis plants a brilliant sparkle in the sunlight. However, the ratio and amount the active compounds appear in can be quite different, and this is significant.  

While none of the therapeutic terpenes in cannabis have the ability to trigger a “high”, some cannabinoids do. 

But only one cannabinoid ever appears in large enough amounts to do it in either crop. This is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while marijuana plants can produce enough THC to cause a high, hemp doesn’t simply because it’s naturally found in regions with low ultraviolet (UV) light. Cannabis plants create THC to protect against UV rays. 

After THC, the most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis is CBD, and like THC and the other cannabinoids, it has therapeutic effects. However, CBD can’t cause a high regardless of the amount administered because its molecular shape prevents it from attaching to receptors in the body in a way that over-stimulates them. Enough CBD can actually block THC from overstimulating these receptors.

This makes cannabis plants that produce large amounts of CBD but little THC very attractive to those that want to take advantage of marijuana’s health benefits but want to avoid the high and side effects introduced by large amounts of THC. 

And it’s from these plants that CBD products are taken from. And while named after a single compound amongst hundreds, most CBD products contain the same compounds you’ll find in medical marijuana — just with significantly less THC that’s safe for both us and our dogs to consume. 

Why Marijuana Products Of Any Type Isn’t Safe For Dogs

The reason marijuana edibles and CBD tinctures have therapeutic properties that can relax anxiety, lower inflammation, and on is because the active compounds in cannabis plants attach to regulatory receptors in the body. 

Naturally, these receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, are activated by unique neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids. When activated, receptors tell the cells they’re found in, to perform homeostatic processes that stabilize and repair different mechanisms in the area. 

For the most part, the active compounds in cannabis work similarly to the endocannabinoids, activating the receptors to the same degree as them, essentially doing their job for them. 

However, THC connects stronger to one of the two main receptors in a way that naturally-produced endocannabinoids can’t. 

All mammals have these receptors and neurotransmitters, collectively called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). However, some mammals have more CB1 receptors than others, in particular our loveable dogs. 

This makes dogs much more sensitive to THC than us, with some noting it produces effects more aligned with heavy alcohol intoxication. As well, while still incredibly rare, it’s within the realm of possibility for a dog to die from over-consuming THC. Especially if it’s a small dog eating a dose meant for a 200lb person.  

The upper threshold of THC, both safety and morally, has not been established in canines. Unlike some mammals, dogs do not purposely consume things that make them high. However, we know that the trace amounts of THC federally allowed in CBD products are safe for dogs to consume. 

This is why until vastly more research is done, only CBD items certified with a certificate of analysis (COA) should be given to your dog.

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