With the legalization of cannabis in October, Canada’s veterinarians have begun to explore the idea of giving pot to pets as a replacement for pain medication and to reduce anxiety in high strung animals.

Some doctors, who are a part of The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, are lobbying Health Canada to amend the Access to Cannabis regulations to allow vets to prescribe cannabidiol commonly known as CBD to pets. CBD is a cannabinoid extract often used to treat pain, anxiety, and inflammation in humans, and which lacks the psychoactive characteristics of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Since THC is the primary ingredient that causes psychoactive in cannabis, it is very dangerous to pets and can cause profound levels of confusion, and distress. In dogs, they often vocalize their feelings with barking, agitation, and hyperactivity. If cats are given too much THC, they meow loudly and can become extremely defensive, often scratching at their owners or other pets. Although pets get through this initial phase fairly quickly, they then begin to drool and become unable to function properly.

Although cannabis has been used for thousands of years in food and therapeutic products, it’s only in recent years that we have an understanding of how it actually reacts to the body. It turns out, what it does is affect the body’s endocannabinoid system, a group of specialized receptors in the brain and peripheral nervous system that affects how almost every other bodily system works. CBD’s act on these receptors much like a key fitting into a lock, turning on or off certain functions within those cells.

If you are thinking about giving Cannabis to your pet, we advise against it. At human strengths, cannabis can be toxic for all types of pets. This doesn’t stop some entrepreneurial companies which are making dog chews, oils and topical creams using cannabis extract such as hemp but more frequently they are using CBD.

Veterinary doctors are usually extremely cautious when it comes to cannabis since no in-depth study have been done, but a mounting number of pet owners say the drug is easing their animals’ anxiety and chronic pain even though it technically remains illegal. In California, where pot is legal, vets have seen an increase in overdose which in some instances can lead to death. Under no circumstances should you give your pet cannabis and leave them unsupervised.

In the foreseeable future, marijuana or any other cannabis extract for that matter aren’t likely to be approved for medical use for your pets. Additionally, The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association won’t likely seek any widespread adoption until more research and tests have done. Until then, you should keep all cannabis products away from your pets.