Greg Hudson: How does this CBD stuff work again?
Dr. Kulpa: Do you mean in humans or in dogs?
Greg: Maybe start with humans.
DR: Actually, that was a trick question. CBD works in us the same way it works for dogs—and most mammals: via our endocannibinoid system. We have receptors tailored-made for the cannabinoids found in Cannabis, with different receptors effecting different results. And the endocannibinoid system has its fingers in all your body’s major business: your brain, stomach, skin, eyes, mood. That’s why cannabis has such a wide range of uses.
The two main cannabinoids in weed are THC and CBD. CBD doesn’t attach to all the same receptors as THC does. Specially, that’s why CBD isn’t psychotropic. You can get CBD from hemp. Reliable old harmless hemp.
Greg: And so CBD is legitimately good for dogs? Why do I always feel crypto-bro energy when I hear about CBD?
DR: We get what you mean. When there isn’t a lot of regulation, things can get out of hand. Promises are made that can’t be backed up by the product. In the US especially there is a wide range of quality and purity. And because there are so many uses for CBD, it can seem like snake oil, or a multivitamin.
Clinically CBD has shown to be an effective pain treatment for dogs. It decreases inflammation and aids digestion. Anecdotally, it also seems to help dogs with anxiety, though more research is needed.
Greg: Can it cure cancer? Did I hear that about CBD, or am I thinking of something else?
DR: There has been some positive results in that area—some people swear that a little CBD oil completely cured their pup—but nothing conclusive.
Greg: What should I look for when getting CBD for my dog?
DR: Has the product been tested? Does it state how many milligrams of CBD it contains? Also, some CBD products are called full-spectrum, and others are terms CBD-isolate. Although the latter sounds more technical, full-spectrum products tend to be more effective, as they also contain other micro cannabinoids that increase CBD’s effectiveness.
Greg: Do I have to give my dog CBD specifically formulated for dogs, or can we share a bottle of oil between us?
DR: Because our endocannibanoid systems are so similar your CBD won’t hurt your pup, but it might not be as effective as some that have been prepared with doggies in mind.
Greg: What’s the legal status of CBD for pets...and is it all pets, or mostly just dogs?
DR: “In Canada, the current cannabis regulations apply to ‘persons’ (humans) only. As such, veterinarians cannot legally prescribe or dispense medical cannabis to their patients. Recreational cannabis products are intended for human consumption only and are not approved for use in animals. Cannabinoids sold outside of these regulated medical/recreational pathways would be governed by the Food and Drugs Act, and therefore require approval from Health Canada. There are currently no prescription drugs containing cannabis that are approved for animal use in Canada,” says Dr. Justyna Kulpa, Senior Scientist, Human and Animal Research Program at Canopy Growth.
Greg: Dr. Kulpa, do you think that will change anytime soon?
DR: “Recently Health Canada’s ‘Science Advisory Committee on Health Products Containing Cannabis’ launched a veterinary subcommittee to review the scientific evidence for whether cannabis health products might be safe and effective for animals. Their report suggests that while there is evidence to support the safe use of CBD in dogs at doses of 0.2-2 mg/kg orally twice daily, CBD administration should occur following consultation with a veterinarian. Data in other pet species (cats, horses) are limited. Whether these recommendations will be incorporated into future iterations of the Canadian cannabis regulations remains to be seen.
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