As medical cannabis is legalized in more states, exploration of treatments for animals is increasing. Pets, we’ve learned, can benefit greatly from veterinarian-certified cannabinoid formulations. There are CBD products on the market now that can ease joint pain and prevent itching.

But cannabis is not great for animals across the board. In the wrong formulations it can harm or even kill them.

Dr. Robert J. Silver, DVM, MS, has been practicing veterinary medicine for over three decades. As director of the Animal Health Division of Folium Biosciences, he helps provide Entourage Nutritional Distributors with a number of unique and patented industrial hemp extracts designed to help pets in need. And because he wants pet owners to be as knowledgeable as possible, he gives all Entourage Nutritional customers using any of the startup’s patented hemp derivatives a free copy of his book, Medical Marijuana and Your Pet.

MERRY JANE recently spoke with Dr. Silver about how cannabis should and should not be used with pets and what the future of medication holds for our animal companions.

What effect does THC have on animals?
Dr. Robert J. Silver:
Studies in the 1970s found that dogs have a very high density of THC receptors in their hindbrain. This makes THC especially a problem for dogs. Other pets don’t have as severe a reaction to THC as dogs, but they don’t like that psychotropic feeling that THC gives them. As a veterinarian and herbalist for the past 32 years, and practicing in Colorado for that whole time, I’ve seen a number of dogs who have had overdoses of THC. I have found, however, that legal, industrial hemp with sub-psychotropic levels of THC, works great in all animals. Hemp is legal in all 50 states, and our companion animals—dogs, cats, horses, birds, and pocket pets—do well when given hemp with high phytocannabinoid profile, minus the psychoactive THC fraction.

What are some of the worst things that could happen if pets are given THC?
There have been several deaths in dogs involving THC consumption. These are dogs that may have accidently grabbed their owner’s edibles, or perhaps a well-meaning owner didn’t know how to dose them. In each case the dog had ingested a large amount of edibles with high potency THC, and a lot of chocolate and raisins. Both chocolate and raisins are toxic to dogs, and when you combine that with the blood-pressure-lowering effects of THC, and its effect on the heart rate, you can get into trouble, if you are a dog.

Which formulations are actually useful for animals?
Folium has a patented process to turn the typical oil-soluble hemp extract into a water-soluble powder or water soluble liquid, also providing zero THC and a rich complement of phytocannabinoids and terpenes. The product formulation possibilities with these unique and proprietary extracts has me excited to get to work formulating some very unique animal products.

What makes Folium’s plants special and better for animals?
We don’t allow residual solvents, and we don’t use pesticides on our plants. We grow them and we understand that to supply the biggest brands in the world you have to have the highest quality control measures technologically possible. We test multiple times and use third-party analysis for every single batch and every single extract we make and distribute. We spend a lot of money, time, and effort to ensure that we distribute only the highest-quality products.

What’s the most exciting development you’re seeing with animals and cannabis?
Lives change from the use of cannabinoids. We’re only now learning about the cannabinoid receptors in the body and how they are connected to a system that helps to protect and repair the body and support important healthy functions. The Endocannabinoid System was only just discovered in the mid 1990s. It’s so new, it’s not even in the textbooks.

I love helping people and animals. When I hear from a pet parent how hemp has helped their ailing pet, I love to know that in some small way I have helped improved that critter’s quality of life. The plant helps pets with pain, anxiety, arthritis, and even cancer.

My veterinary colleagues tell me how the use of a small amount of our products has helped their patient improve from a difficult problem, when many of their other therapies have failed. I spend a lot of time educating veterinarians about the potential clinical value of cannabinoid therapies for their patients. Most veterinarians I speak with are excited about the potential of this amazing emerging therapy for pets.