CHOOSING A CANNABIS PRODUCT
There are many questions that you should ask when choosing a cannabis product for your pet. With so many choices available, the task may seem daunting. We hope that by considering the following questions, you will feel better prepared to select a product that is best for you and your pet.
IS IT LEGAL?
Only cannabis products sold by licensed producers (LPs) and provincially licensed retailers are legal for sale in Canada. All other cannabis products containing CBD and/or THC, are not in compliance with Canadian regulations unless they have been approved by Health Canada as a drug containing cannabis, and are registered with a Drug Identification Number (DIN).
IS IT SAFE?
In developing the regulations for the legal sale of cannabis, Health Canada created regulations that require all licensed producers (LPs) follow Good Production Practices. This requires the testing of all products to ensure that they meet, or exceed, the safety guidelines for microbial content (bacteria and molds), pesticides, heavy metals, and solvent residues (for oils). They also require testing and clear labeling of both the THC and CBD content of all products.
Be aware that companies selling products outside of these legal channels, are not regulated and therefore their quality and safety are not automatically tested. You can, however, request that the company provide a Certificate of Analysis/Laboratory Report showing these results. If they cannot provide this information, consider whether this is a company that you still want to use.
DO I TRUST THE COMPANY?
When choosing a manufacturer, look for one with high ethical standards that are open and honest about their production practices.
The company should provide a prompt, courteous, and accurate response to inquiries, and ideally be actively engaged in furthering veterinary research.
IS THE FORMULATION APPROPRIATE FOR MY PET?
Cannabis products come in a variety of formulations that are available for use in animals. Oils and tinctures are the most common formulations, allowing for accurate dosing and easy administration for most pets. Capsules have also been used, and while they do not provide as much flexibility in dosing as a liquid, they can be a convenient dosing format for many pets once a target dose is achieved. Treats specifically formulated for animals can also make administration easier, but like capsules, do not provide as much flexibility in dosing, and at this time all products marketed for pet consumption are unregulated and are black-market products.
Edibles intended for humans (such as cookies, brownies, gummies, etc.) are not recommended due to the potential for overdosing, and the risk of other toxic ingredients such as chocolate, xylitol, raisins, etc.
DOES IT CONTAIN AN APPROPRIATE CANNABINOID/TERPENE PROFILE?
Depending on your pet’s individual situation, you may wish to use a CBD-isolate product, a Hemp-derived product (with many of the hundreds of compounds found within the cannabis plant), or a cannabis product that combines CBD with low-moderate levels of THC.
Products that utilize more of the plant’s natural compounds, have been found to be safer, and have a greater therapeutic effect than those with single compounds. This is known as the “Entourage effect”.
Studies have also found that products that combine CBD and THC can provide a better therapeutic effect for many conditions, but it is important to work with your veterinarian to ensure that you are using the proper ratio and dosing for your pet to avoid undesired effects of THC intoxication.
DO I KNOW WHAT DOSE TO START WITH?
Although cannabis is remarkably safe, THC intoxication, CBD side effects, and drug interactions can occur. It is always advised to discuss your cannabis treatment plan with your veterinarian before starting. Experience has shown that while some pets will respond well to commonly used starting doses, some conditions (and some pets) may require much higher dosing or the introduction of a second product.
When in doubt, "Start Low, Go Slow" working up gradually to your target dose.