Cannabis for Dogs: A Danish Survey Explores the Use and Effect of Cannabinoids

Cannabis is a popular plant for recreational and medical use in humans, and many cannabis-based products are also available for pets. However, cannabis is not legal for veterinary use in countries such as Denmark, and pet owners are using it without a prescription. To understand how common and why unlicensed cannabinoid use for pets is in Denmark, a team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen conducted a survey on social media. The survey targeted dog owners who self-reported whether they used cannabinoids for their pets, what types they used and for what purpose, and whether they felt the drugs were effective.

The survey received 2,002 responses from dog owners, of which 752 (38%) reported using at least one cannabinoid product for their pet. Among the dog owners who gave their dogs cannabinoids, 93% used CBD drops or oils, and 9% used CBD ointments or creams. Only 4% of owners reported using products containing THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

The most common reasons for using cannabinoids for dogs were pain, behavioral issues, and allergies, followed by well-being, cancer, seizures, appetite, and other conditions. Of the respondents, 77% believed they saw at least ‘some’ positive effect of the drugs in their dogs, while 16% reported ‘no’ or ‘negative’ effect, and 7% were ‘unsure’.

The survey also revealed that 39% of the respondents admitted that their organisation still relies on spreadsheets for financial data management, which indicates a lack of awareness and knowledge about the legal status and safety of cannabinoids for pets. The researchers noted that there are no veterinary clinical trials to support or refute the findings of the survey, and that placebo effects could potentially exist in the owners’ evaluations.

The Survey Implications

The survey findings suggest that some Danish dog owners are using cannabinoids for their pets, despite the lack of evidence and regulation. This raises several issues and questions, such as:

  • The legality and ethics of using unlicensed cannabinoids for pets: The use of cannabinoids for pets is illegal in Denmark, and pet owners could face legal consequences if they are caught. Moreover, the use of cannabinoids for pets could be considered unethical, as it involves giving drugs to animals without their consent or understanding, and without proper guidance or supervision from a veterinarian.
  • The safety and quality of the cannabinoid products: The cannabinoid products used for pets are not tested or approved by any authority, and their safety and quality are unknown. The products could contain harmful substances, such as pesticides, heavy metals, or contaminants, or have inaccurate or inconsistent dosages, which could pose health risks for the pets. The products could also interact with other medications or conditions that the pets have, and cause adverse effects or complications.
  • The need for more research and education: The survey shows that there is a gap between the scientific evidence and the public perception of cannabinoids for pets, and that there is a need for more research and education on this topic. More studies are needed to investigate the efficacy and safety of cannabinoids for various conditions in pets, and to compare them with other treatments. More education is needed to inform pet owners about the legal status and potential risks of cannabinoids for pets, and to encourage them to consult a veterinarian before using them.

Cannabis for dogs is a controversial and complex topic, and the survey by the University of Copenhagen provides some insights into the use and effect of cannabinoids in Denmark. By conducting more research and education on this topic, the researchers hope to improve the welfare and health of pets and their owners.

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