The state of veterinary medicine has advanced greatly in recent years, and thanks to the availability of more effective medications, many pets are living longer than they did years ago. However, as pets age, problems such as arthritis and other forms of pain and inflammation occur. Conventional medications commonly used to treat pain sometimes have a negative impact on the immune system, gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidneys. Plus, they don't always work as well as we'd like - both for humans and for our pets.

Of all the uses of cannabis in human and veterinary medicine, pain relief is perhaps the best documented. Research studies have shown a profound pain-relieving effect of cannabis for a variety of conditions. Extracts of THC and CBD have been shown to provide relief in human patients with advanced cancer pain, as well as in patients with nerve pain.

Studies evaluating the effectiveness of cannabis in treating arthritis in dogs have also been completed. A recent study from Cornell University showed a reduction in pain scores in dogs with arthritis - with no negative side effects - when treated with CBD compared to placebo. Practically speaking, many veterinarians and pet owners have seen the positive effects of medical cannabis, for treating arthritis and other forms of pain in animals. The research simply confirms what many of us have seen first hand.


Medical cannabis for pets usually comes as a liquid oil or a treat. Liquids are preferable because the dosage can be precisely controlled and because CBD is better absorbed through oral tissues than through the digestive tract.

Vaporized or smoked cannabis should NEVER be used on pets. This can damage their lungs and lead to accidental overdose.

Similarly, do not give your pet any edibles for humans, as they cannot be dosed accurately and may contain ingredients that are toxic to animals (such as raisins, chocolate, etc.).


When considering cannabis as a medical option to treat pain and inflammation, it's important to understand how the different components of a cannabis preparation can affect your pet. 

Some important factors to consider are:

Using the right ratio of THC and CBD, as well as dosage, is critical to success.

Consider concomitant administration of other medications for possible drug interactions.

Always consult your veterinarian before starting any new medications or supplements for your pet.

Deciding which product or ratio to use for your pet depends on the severity and origin of the pain.

The ratio of THC to CBD often ranges from 20:1 to even ratios (1:1) to 1:20. The decision of which product or ratio to use in a pet with pain/inflammation often depends on the severity of the pain and its cause. The following is a guide to selecting ratios for treating pain and inflammation in animals.

High CBD or hemp-based CBD

- 4:1 to 20:1 CBD to THC, or in the case of hemp, little to no THC.

- Mild to moderate pain such as arthritis and back pain

Uniform ratio

- 1:1 CBD to THC

- Moderate pain such as arthritis and back pain

High THC levels

- 4:1 to 20:1 THC to CBD

- Severe pain such as cancer pain, nerve pain and advanced arthritis.

When using cannabis as medicine for pets, keep in mind that significant side effects are unacceptable. It is never okay to get your dog or cat stoned, even with medical cannabis. The goal of cannabis therapy for pets is to relieve the symptom being treated without any other side effects. Their normal behavior patterns should remain unchanged after therapy.

Always consult your veterinarian before starting cannabis therapy for your pet.

CBD dosage

0.5 - 5 mg of CBD per 5 kilos of body weight twice daily.

Start low and slowly increase the dose every 4-7 days.

Doses at the lower end of the range are often effective.

Higher doses of CBD can be beneficial in certain circumstances.

Medical cannabis can be of great benefit to animals in pain. Ultimately, however, the safe and effective use of cannabis requires an understanding of the milligram amounts of THC and CBD (or other cannabinoids), the ratio of cannabinoids, and the availability of a medicine at a concentration appropriate for an animal patient's dosage.

Nothing is more important than your pet's safety, so don't make assumptions or presumptions about the contents or dosage of cannabis medicines.

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