Pot for your pooch: Optimizing medical cannabis for pets
Australian pet pharmaceutical company CannPal is working with the CSIRO to develop better ways to safely administer medicinal cannabis to a variety of household pets. The research is developing microencapsulation techniques to make sure the cannabis oils can be delivered to each different animal precisely and safely.
As medical cannabis progressively became legal across more and more states in America it was inevitable that people started to figure, if this is good for me then it must also be good for my pet. Despite a paucity of scientific study, a growing body of anecdotal reports are starting to suggest that medical cannabis confers similar benefits to dogs and cats as it would to their owners.
While all animals have encocannabinoid systems, able to process compounds found in cannabis, dosage isn't as simple as just feeding your pet the same form of medicinal cannabis that works for you. Each animal absorbs cannabis differently, and has unique sensitivities to different cannabinoids. Dogs, for example, are much more sensitive to THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, than humans. So extreme caution must be taken when administering broader cannabis compounds to dogs.
To optimize the administration of cannabis-derived medicines to animals, CannPal's partnership with the CSIRO leverages the Australian federal government agency's patented MicroMax technology. This process can encapsulate microscopic oil particles in robust films that allow precise control of both dosage and where in the stomach the oil is released. In the past, MicroMax technology has been used to effectively encapsulate and deliver omega-3 fish oils.
This novel process is now being adapted by CannPal to help find the optimum dosage and delivery method for cannabis-derived pet medicines. While some anecdotal reports from the United States suggest only the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) should be used in pets, early research from CannPal reports the company is developing a more specific oral formulation for pets that includes both CBD and THC.
A recent early trial in dogs found the company's formulation presented excellent safety profiles and no adverse events. A corresponding formulation for cats is currently being developed by the company.
Despite medical marijuana becoming legal in a number of states in America, it is still technically illegal as a medicine for pets. A growing movement is pushing to make it legal for pet owners and veterinarians to administer, but more research certainly needs to be done before we understand safe dosages and strategies for a variety of different animals. This new work from CannPal and the CSIRO is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.