As medical cannabis is progressively being made legal in states across America, researchers are now testing ways that existing treatments could be administered in similar ways to our pets.
The media regularly draws upon how cannabis is helping people with a range of conditions, from mental health issues to various cancers, it seems only natural that focus would shift to the benefits of medical cannabis for our pets.
Australian pet pharmaceutical company CannPal is working closely with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to develop ways to safely administer medical cannabis to a range of household pets.
The research aims to develop microencapsulation techniques - that is, to secure cannabis extracts in a tablet form - to help ensure that pet owners are giving their pets the correct, safe dosage. Despite there being limited scientific research into the benefits of medical cannabis for animals, the CannPal/CSIRO initiative is largely fuelled by anecdotal reports that suggest there are similar benefits for cats and dogs as there are for humans.
Whilst animals are able to process cannabis, it isn't as simple as feeding them the same form of medical cannabis that we may take. Each animal absorbs the substance differently, with different sensitivities - dogs, for example, are more sensitive to THC (the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis) than humans. Therefore, owners must be extremely cautious when administering cannabis to dogs.
Development of the treatment is well underway, with a recent trial finding that the company's formulation presented excellent safety profiles and no adverse effects for dogs. Work is currently underway for a similar trial on cats.
In the UK, medical marijuana is currently illegal and, even in US states where it has been legalised, it is still illegal to administer the substance to animals. It is hoped that, if successful, the cannabis-based products will open up new avenues in the treatment of illnesses in domestic pets.
Studies have found that, much like humans, animals can suffer depression too, especially if they're left alone during the day and become bored. So, who knows - we always talk about the importance of mental health, and perhaps these advancements could work towards us understanding and improving our pets' psychology just as they do ours.
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