CBD and THC in Pets

Cannabis, has been prominent in pet news recently due to the rise of its medicinal use in people. Its legalization across Canada has increased the likelihood of your pet becoming accidentally exposed to cannabis as well. You can read about 2 main components of Cannabis in this article: THC and CBD.

 

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CBD in Pets

There is currently very limited trial data of CBD use in pets. The Q and A’s below will help you understand a little bit about CBD and it’s availability for pets in Canada.

 

What is CBD?

The cannabis plant contains hundreds of different chemical constituents, such as cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Currently, over 100 chemical substances collectively known as cannabinoids have been identified. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of these cannabinoids. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the most well-known cannabinoid in cannabis, responsible for the high or intoxication of consuming cannabis - CBD does not produce a high or intoxicating effect. 

However, there is some evidence that CBD may influence some of the effects that THC has on the brain. CBD is also being studied for its possible therapeutic uses; it has received market approval in the United States for two severe forms of epilepsy for humans. CBD can be found in varieties of the cannabis plant, including hemp plants.

What is the difference between Cannabis oil and Hemp-Seed oil? Does Hemp-Seed contain CBD?

It is important to note that “cannabis oil” is a product that consists of cannabis (usually in the form of a THC and/or CBD-rich extract derived from the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis plant, which can include plants classified as industrial hemp) and a vegetable-based or plant-based oil (such as canola, olive, grape seed, or hemp-seed oil). Cannabis oil is one of the 5 classes of cannabis (i.e. fresh cannabis, dried cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plants and cannabis seeds) that can be legally sold by provincially-authorized retailers as of 2018. 

Hemp-seed oil is distinct from cannabis oil. Hemp-seed oil refers to oil derived from pressing the grain or seed of hemp plants (processed similar to other oil seeds, like canola) and contains very little THC (no more than 10 ug/g of THC) and negligible amounts of CBD. For hemp-seed oil to be exempted from the Cannabis Act, neither THC nor CBD could be added, or concentrated via processing, and any trace presence of THC or CBD would be the incidental result of the harvesting and processing steps. Hemp seeds are required to be handled in such a way to limit THC and CBD contamination. Hemp-seed oil is marketed in Canada in food, cosmetics,and natural and veterinary health products.

Can I market a natural health product, veterinary health product containing CBD? 

No. Only limited parts of cannabis or hemp plants may be used as a medicinal ingredient in a natural health product (NHPs) under the Natural Health Product Regulations. The same is true for veterinary health products (VHPs) under the Food and Drug Regulations. NHPs and VHPs can only contain parts of the cannabis and hemp plants that are not considered cannabis under the Cannabis Act, such as hemp-seed derivatives and non-viable seeds. Mature stalks that do not include any leaves, flowers, seeds or branches,and fibre from such stalks are also excluded from the Cannabis Act, but may not be used in veterinary health products. Trace levels of cannabinoids (e.g. no more than 10 parts per million THC) may be present in such products as a result of the isolation process. 

However, the deliberate addition of cannabinoids to such products is not permitted. As all cannabinoids are subject to the Prescription Drug List, any health product wishing to contain CBD, and make a health claim, would require approval as a prescription drug under the Food and Drugs Act. CBD products that do not make any health claims may be sold lawfully under the Cannabis Act—either through the provincially-authorized retail system, or through the federal access to cannabis for medical purposes system —provided they follow all requirements of that Act and regulations.

 

Can I make or market pet food containing CBD?

No. Under the Cannabis Act, only five classes of cannabis are initially permitted for sale: fresh cannabis, dried cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plants and cannabis seed. Edible cannabis products are now legal as well. But they are only available for human consumption.

 

Summary

So in short, CBD containing products for pets are not legal in Canada yet. Hemp Oil products marketed for pets contain negligible content of CBD in them. The efficacy of CBD is not very clear yet either. There is very limited trial data to support its use in animals at this stage. Based on this we currently do not actively recommend CBD use for most pets.

 

If you do use CBD for your pets, please feel free to share it with us as this is an area of active research in the veterinary field.

 

THC in pets

Dogs are proportionally more sensitive than people to tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), which is the well-known psychoactive compound responsible for the ‘high’ related with cannabis use. It is not uncommon to see 1 to 5 cases of THC toxicity per week in most emergency clinics in the province. 

Smaller dogs are particularly susceptible due to the lower level required to produce symptoms. Cats are not immune to toxic side effects, but are much more selective in their food intake. Cats generally avoid eating garbage, scavenging cigarette-type butts on walks around the block, or table or counter surfing. They also lack a sweet tooth, so we do not see them take in ‘pot’ products like dogs do.

While the most common cause of THC intoxication is inadvertent oral ingestion (or in rare cases, intentional administration), all pets are at risk of respiratory irritation from second-hand smoke, and pets can be affected by smoke inhalation, so pet owners are encouraged to smoke cannabis outdoors or away from their pets.

What are the most common signs of excess cannabis exposure in pets?

  • Sleepiness

  • Depression

  • Wobbling, pacing and agitation

  • Sound or light sensitivity

  • Inappropriate urination

  • Dilated pupils

  • Vomiting

  • Bloodshot eyes

  • Salivation

  • Fast or slow heart rates

  • Low body temperature

  • Vocalization

 

Above information is copied or adapted directly from the following sources:

https://www.albertaanimalhealthsource.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/hc-fact-sheet-cbd-cannabis-hemp-products-new-cannabis-act.pdf

https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/veterinarians-caution-medical-marijuana-exposure-in-pets

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