For many of us, our furry friends are our children; we just don’t have to shuffle them back and forth to soccer practice. We love them, we cherish them and we do what we can to help them.

When a pet is ill, it’s particularly devastating. For one thing, we don’t like to see animals in pain or discomfort. For another, our pets can’t tell us what’s wrong nor can they help themselves; no dog has ever gone to the medicine cabinet and gotten an aspirin.

As cannabis becomes a more viable and acceptable form of medicine, some pet owners turn to it for answers. Yep, that’s a thing: cannabis for your canine and feline (heck, maybe it’d even work for a chinchilla or two).

The Ailments Cannabis Treats

Whether you’re four-legged or two-legged, cannabis treats similar maladies. In pets, it’s been used to help arthritis, control seizures, reduce cancer pain, calm the anxious, reduce allergic reactions, enhance appetite, and reduce the inflammation of certain bowel diseases. In animals with terminal illnesses, it’s used to enhance quality of life.

The reason cannabis works in pets is because, like us, they also possess endocannabinoid systems

This is a complex system of cannabinoid receptors found everywhere in the body – the brain, the skin, the bones, and various organs.

An endocannabinoid system that is balanced helps the body’s metabolic process: things run smoothly and efficiently. An endocannabinoid system out of whack, on the other hand, leaves the body compromised. It suddenly welcomes disease, pain, sickness, and other guests you don’t want stopping by.

Cannabis in pets works because of its ability to keep the endocannabinoid system functioning at full capacity. But caution is advised.

Cannabis Overdose in Pets

Science has established that it’s very hard for humans to OD on cannabis; really, it’s impossible in the sense of fatality. But many people can take so much marijuana that they feel sick or strange or like they should have listened back in the 80s and just said no. Pets experience something similar, but to a larger degree.

Animals overdose on cannabis fairly easily

It doesn’t always end in death – most times, in fact, it doesn’t – but it cannabis and pets, furry friends and cannabis makes for a worrisome situation, both for the pet and those who love them.

One of the common reasons for this is dosage size; people give their pets doses that they’d give themselves. Animals are smaller than us – with the exception of the Great Dane or Saint Bernard – and often drastically so; we weigh 150 pounds, our teacup maltese weighs five.

There are several signs that your animal has taken too much: they may look or act spacey and have a hard time walking. They may refuse to move and opt instead to stand still. They may grow unresponsive to your commands. In extreme cases, their blood pressure will become unstable and they may refuse to eat or drink. If that happens, a trip to an emergency clinic might be warranted.

The best way to avoid this? You guessed it: proper dosage. The rule of thumb is to give your pet the smallest dose possible. If that doesn’t seem to do much, you can gradually work up to higher doses. Still, none of this should be attempted without the guidance of a veterinarian. Don’t merely follow an article you read on the internet, not even when it’s super witty and clever.

Of course, as we’ve seen with our personal doctors, not every veterinarian is on the cannabis bandwagon; some will warn you against it, perhaps even dropping Fifi and Milo as patients if you try. But, what you do is up to you; that’s the great thing about pet ownership, so much power!

If your vet isn’t willing to give pot a whirl, look elsewhere. There’s several holistic clinics open to the plant for pets concept.

How to Give Your Furry Friends Cannabis

You can’t really pass your Dalmatian a joint and show them to inhale, but there are several other routes of administration. Cannabis for pets can be cannabis and pets, furry friends and cannabis delivered in capsules, treats, tinctures, or topicals.

Whatever route used isn’t as important as the THC to CBD ratio. It’s always best to ask your vet rather than guessing – some vets tell you to refrain from CBD only products (like hemp oil) and use something that has at least a little THC. Nonetheless, use THC carefully.

According to the Hawthorne Vet Clinic, dogs are more sensitive to THC than other mammals (us included)

Thus, in pets, dogs especially, strains low in THC are better than those that are high; your dog doesn’t need any Chemdawg Sour Diesel.

Some companies sell cannabis products made for animals, but if you’re making your own, some of the following strains may be useful:

Cannatonic: This strain helps numb the body, offering relief for animals in pain. It can also be used to treat nausea, anxiety, stress, and moodiness (so, technically, every cat in the world could benefit).

ACDC: Despite the name, this strain won’t shake anyone all night long. It’s very low in THC and very high in CBD – up to around 20 percent.

Sour Tsunami: A strain that is 60/40 in Sativa/Indica ratio, it’s CBD rich with low to moderate THC. It’s one of the strains credited with helping showcase the benefits of CBD.

Harlequin: This strain isn’t used to produce a high: it’s used to help anxiety, reduce stress, and relieve pain from both chronic and acute conditions. It’s known to benefit inflammatory diseases, making it a potential answer to arthritis, which is exceedingly common in older canines.

Charlotte’s Web: This is a medical strain very high in CBD. It’s especially effective for seizure disorders. It has very low THC (if any) and won’t produce a high; your dog will still want to eat himself to death, but that’s only because he’s a dog, not because he’s stoned.

Jenn Keeler

About the author: Jenn Keeler is a freelance writer and illustrator specializing in humorous lifestyle articles. She is one of the few people on earth actually using an English degree. Her heart belongs to the Denver Broncos and her husband. In that order.