Medical marijuana (or cannabis) has been used for thousands of years across many cultures. More recently, cannabis is used to effectively treat symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions in humans. Use of medical marijuana is controversial.
Drs. Sarah Brandon and Greg Copas, two Seattle veterinarians, pioneered the use of medical marijuana for pets two years ago. They developed Canna Companion, a hemp-based supplement for pets. I had a chance to speak with both of them at Global Pet Expo, and I was fascinated by the many possible uses of this natural supplement for cats.
CannaVet is a unique blend of Cannabis sativa strains, frequently referred to as hemp, designed to enhance the medical benefits of the cannabis plant while minimizing the ‘high-inducing’ concentrations of THC. Each capsule contains a combination of phytocannabinoids, the main group of compounds in hemp, terpenes which help to modulate phytocannabinoids, and flavonoids, potent anti-inflammatories which are found in a wide variety of foods we and our pets eat. The capsules also contain omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and vitamin B6, the latter of which increases bioavailability. All of these ingredients are naturally found in the cannabis plant.
Canna Companion can help with a variety of conditions, including
Canna Companion can be effective for such a wide variety of conditions because hemp naturally contains compounds which affect the endocannabinoid system, an internal pathway found in mammals. Nearly every tissue contains receptors which respond to the components found in cannabis, acting separately but holistically with the body’s other receptor systems.
In most cases, Canna Companion is not designed to be the sole treatment. It works best when given in conjunction with other treatments, and often allows reduction in medications that may have significant undesirable side effects. Hemp has no known negative interactions with other medications or supplements.
CannaVet contains <0.3% THC (tested by a local non-affiliated company for quality assurance). It is made from cannabis sativa, and is not intended for human consumption. In higher concentrations, THC can be toxic to dogs and cats. That is one reason why Drs. Brandon and Copas do not advocate blowing marijuana smoke in your pet’s face or administering human medical grade cannabis to pets!
Your cat will not get high from Canna Companion because it focuses on the non-THC portions of the plant that seem to have the best benefit without giving animals the high that recreational users seek.
The most common side effect is mild lethargy, which usually subsides in 3-4 days. A less common side effect is softer stools and an increased bowel movement frequency. Since Canna Companion uses the whole plant, and hemp has a high fiber content, this may cause problems in sensitive cats. A lower dose usually resolves the fiber sensitivity issue. Rarely, vomiting or increased skin itchiness are seen, which would require discontinuing the use of cannabis-based products.
When I spoke with Dr. Brandon, she shared an experience with three cats with me that is a testament to the benefits of Canna Companion. “We started our product for these older kitties with joint discomfort,” said Brandon. “They also had histories of FIC (feline interstitial cystitis – as diagnosed by their veterinarians). All responded well regarding their joint aches but the surprise came after 2 months of supplementation: their FIC symptoms resolved.” Brandon said she can’t be sure whether this was due to less stress due to more comfortable mobility or if there were direct anti-inflammatory actions on the bladder from the cannabinoids. “None the less,” adds Brandon, “the cats are now more comfortable and their quality of life has improved on many levels, which is all we wanted for them.”
Unlike human medical marijuana, which is governed by state law (currently, 23 states have passed laws that allow medical marijuana use), CannaVet is a supplement and meets the current definition of hemp supplements under Unites States federal law.
I’m as excited about the possibilities this safe and natural supplement offers for helping cats with a variety of conditions as Dr. Brandon. “The future of cannabis in the cat world is quite positive,” says Brandon. “I believe within 2-3 years it will be a commonly offered option in veterinary hospitals for pain and inflammation reduction, neurological conditions and mild behavioral concerns. Cannabis is not a cure-all and we certainly don’t advocate discontinuation of prescribed medications without consulting your cat’s veterinarian.. None the less, it does have its place in the feline world and we’ll see more of it as time goes on.”
How Cannabis Is Helping a Senior Cat with Multiple Health Issues
My little one is 18 years old and is a chronic kidney disease cat. She’s been battling with her CKD for two and a half years but is a fighter. It’s starting to get worse now and she has lost a good chunk of weight, which for her is extremely dangerous. To give you an idea, she was 4.4lbs about 4 months ago (she’s always been small for her size, most she’s ever weighed was 9lbs) but now she’s closer to 3.5. She also has arthritis which is worsening (I’ve done acupuncture for her which worked wonders, so I’m probably going to do that again) as well as potentially hyperthyroidism. The hyperthyroidism is unknown at this point because the methimazole has been making her sick so I stopped using it, but my vet said she no longer has it so…? Anywho, I’m looking into alternative options and that’s when yesterday it dawned on me that cannabis kills cancer cells, well it might also help with her kidney disease. At the very least it would increase her appetite which is about nonexistent. I have already tried to contact CannaVet and not heard back, but I did get a response from VetCBD in California (I live in OR so it was just for info) and found out the ratio of CBD:THC needs to be 19/20: 1 so basically around .18% THC at most for anyone who is shopping around for their fur child. Anyway! at this point I want to reach out and find out a few things..