CAN CANNABIS HELP MY RESCUE DOG?
There is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence proving the antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, and anxiolytic effect of CBD for dogs. Not to mention, the fact that dogs along with all animals (vertebrate and invertebrate alike) have a naturally occurring endocannabinoid system. Having an internal system to regulate the exogenous chemicals found in cannabis supports the theory that they could benefit from cannabis consumption.
As professionals in the legal cannabis industry, we had to try something we knew to be so beneficial for anxiety, panic attacks, and PTSD in humans. After some trial and error, we've found that CBD with very small amounts of THC have helped tremendously with Mochi's anxiety and panic attacks. We use these as preventative measures before stressful experiences that cannot be avoided (fireworks, construction, etc.). Mochi will actively lick the oil out of our hands (and off my body when I use my homemade infused body butter), which has provided a base level of consent. When I personally consume cannabis I always let him sniff it before allowing him to partake as well if he would like to. Sometimes he will walk away in which case we never force it on him.
We understand this is a controversial topic, however because it has helped so much we are willing to share our success.
Please reach out with any questions or concerns.
What are the benefits?
Cannabis is no overnight miracle cure but can provide a lot of long and short term benefits especially for symptoms of PTSD. Two recent studies have shown how this actually works by reducing fear based threat responses in the amygdala and dulling traumatic memories that prevent moving on. Not to mention, there is a plethora of animal studies that have proven inflammation is decreased with the regular use of cannabis. Dr. Michael Verbora, MD, cannabinoid expert and chief medical officer at Aleafia Health in Canada says, “CBD is known to be an anti-inflammatory and it is likely one of the safest medicines to provide such an effect... One of the challenges is we don’t know what dose can alleviate what anti-inflammatory or immune-related conditions.” As inflammation is a key symptom in a lot of autoimmune diseases, we also believe regular consumption of CBD / THC can contribute to the prevention of diseases related to inflammation.
What is the correct dosage?
There are no FDA studies on what a recommended dosage is for dogs (let alone humans) so like trying cannabis for yourself, finding the right dose requires some trial and error. We recommend to "start low and go slow" because decreasing a dosage is very difficult whereas you can always add more. Keep a journal or take notes and monitor your dog's behavior to know if you've given them too much or too little. No one or thing has ever died from cannabis overdose so we feel safe experimenting. If this is still concerning, no matter what, you cannot overdose on CBD so find comfort in moving forward with at least a CBD tincture. We make our own cannabis tinctures dosed at a 10:1 ratio of CBD:THC and administer the dosage in a 30 mL dropper. This comes out to approximately 33mg of CBD and 3mg of THC per dropper. Try using a carrier oil that is good for your Jindo dog's coat and brain too, like fish oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil.
What consumption form is best?
Taking cannabis in edible or tincture form is the safest method of consumption for you and your rescue dog. However, it does take longer to kick in and you may not always have the right ratio on hand. For example, when Mochi is panicked, he prefers more THC than our daily 10:1 ratio tincture. Sometimes (usually around New Year's and 4th of July with all the fireworks), he prefers a faster onset which we can only achieve by blowing marijuana smoke or vapor in his face. If you don't smoke, try purchasing a legal cannabis vape pen (the illegal ones can have dangerous chemicals) and blowing from the battery end so that the mouthpiece is facing towards their nose for an inhale. Marijuana vapor from a vaporizer is safer than smoke as there are less harmful carcinogens since there is no pant material combusted creating harmful tars. We always let Mochi smell whatever we are helping him consume before forcing it on him. Sometimes he will walk away which we take as him not wanting it. If he sniffs it and stays close we can reasonably assume he desires the cannabis plant's beneficial effects.
Why CBD and THC?
Sufferers of PTSD can deal with overwhelming symptoms including panic attacks, hypervigilance, detachment, self destructive behavior, and more. These behaviors are meant to promote survival in traumatic situations. When something is removed from the trauma, it's ability to attach a new understanding to past triggers is called the 'extinction learning' process. Animal studies have proven that CB1 receptors improved extinction learning, or the ability to replace traumatic memories with new positive memories as they relate to triggers. Interestingly, CBD does not directly interact with CB1 receptors but THC does implying that the best use of cannabis for PTSD are blends with both CBD and THC which has been proven in both human and animal studies.
Cannabis oil or infused dog treats?
We recommend using cannabis in an oil tincture form over dog treats. This will be the most bioavailable and will kick in more quickly than your dog having to digest a treat before absorbing the oil. For more of a preventative approach, infused dog treats are fine. However, the cannabis oil is likely exposed to heat in the baking process of the treats (unless the treats are sprayed or dipped in the infused ingredient), causing the beneficial compounds to break down and evaporate. I can confidently say none of the CBD dog treats on the market are tested after they are baked for the CBD content so be very careful believing you are getting exactly what is advertised. The company is likely claiming the dosage as it relates to the amount of CBD added to the mix before it's baked but currently there aren't regulations to test for homogeneity or cannabinoid content post production. Another concern with infused dog treats is how different every dog's metabolism is based on age, hydration, and breed. Edibles are digested first and processed by liver enzymes into a stronger form that is harder to regulate, whereas tinctures are absorbed directly into the blood stream.
Are there any side effects?
The AKC outlines three side effects of how CBD use in dogs, which is very similar to the effects in humans. These include dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, and drowsiness. As for THC, be very careful with the dosage. Although dogs have less cannabinoid receptors than humans, a little bit still goes a very long way and has similar negative side effects as humans that may include stumbling, incontinency, paranoia, and vomiting. This is another reason we prefer to use cannabis vapor, as it's easier to regulate. Human studies have proven that liver enzymes metabolize D9-THC (the active form of THC) in edibles into a much stronger chemical 11-Hydroxy-THC that can be hard to monitor in your furry friend. Tinctures are typically absorbed sublingually (under the tongue) and bypass this process. Be sure to keep your dog's water bowl full and have lots of cozy spots for them to feel comfortable. When Mochi is scared, he finds comfort in small, dark spaces like his kennel, a closet, or in a cozy corner. We often find after a dropper and a few puffs blown in his face, he immediately relaxes and can fall asleep even with fireworks in the background.
Iffland, Kerstin, and Franjo Grotenhermen. “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, vol. 2, no. 1, 2017, pp. 139–154., doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034.
Schier, Alexandre, et al. “Antidepressant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis Sativa.” CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets, vol. 13, no. 6, 2014, pp. 953–960., doi:10.2174/1871527313666140612114838.
What the experts say...
"While there are some differnces in how cannabis affects pets compares to humans, they can benefit in many of the same ways people do."