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Trupanion: Is medical marijuana an option for pets?

A while back I got a press release from the folks at Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet insurance company, about marijuana toxicity and pets.

I have two cats myself and have been wondering not just about toxicity but also whether there are any benefits (such as CBD pain relief for older arthritic animals) in giving animals some sort of measured-dose edible version of the plant.

I asked the company if they could give us a few guest posts about animals and cannabis – and any tips about whether it would help or hurt dogs and cats – and they kindly asked Denise Petryk, a veterinarian, to put something together for us.


The first post looked at how to spot marijuana toxicity in pets. The second looks at possible benefits of the non-THC components of cannabis for animals.

-SueVo (

Medical Marijuana: An Option for Pets?

By Denise Petryk
DVM, MBA on behalf of Trupanion

(Denise Petryk)
(Denise Petryk)

As states around the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana and cannabis is generally regarded to have health benefits, there is new interest in better understanding medicinal marijuana as a treatment for pets who have a wide variety of conditions.

Fears about treating pets with medical marijuana are partially provoked by incidents of marijuana toxicity in pets, which occur when a pet ingests a dangerous amount of THC.

The high concentrations of THC found in certain strains of marijuana may cause impaired coordination, excessive urination, vomiting, depression, tremors and sometimes seizures or comas.

Seattle-based Trupanion, a company offering medical insurance for cats and dogs, reports that it has seen an increase in these marijuana toxicity claims, handling twice as many claims in the first two months of 2015 than in the entirety of 2013.

Overall, the company has paid out over $24,000 in confirmed marijuana toxicity claims. See Trupanion’s post about marijuana toxicity in pets here Marijuana Pet Myths Busted .

Some veterinarians and pet owners claim that cannabis supplements formulated specifically for pets have made a positive difference in the health and wellbeing of the pet.

These hemp-based products have been said to help stimulate and regulate appetite, reduce anxiety and stress, support a healthy immune system and reduce pain or discomfort.

Canna-Pet and Canna Companion are two companies capitalizing on claims about the drug’s healing effects for pets.

Their products contain little to no THC, eliminating the possibility of marijuana toxicity. However, these claims are yet-to-be confirmed by government testing or any independent testing.

FDA recently sent letters to Canna-Pet and Canna Companion reprimanding them for making therapeutic claims in marketing materials without proper research and testing.

While it cannot advise on treatment, Trupanion can ease the financial burden pet face as they work with their veterinarians to determine the best treatment for their pets.

Trupanion covers 90% of the cost of cannabis treatment when recommended by a veterinarian, in the same way they cover other herbal and alternative veterinary treatments. Whether owners are treating a dog’s cancer with a cannabis product or whether their cat needs to be treated for an accidental marijuana toxicity case, our goal is to ensure every pet gets the medical treatment it needs.

Currently, veterinarians cannot legally prescribe medical marijuana. However, the state of Nevada recently proposed a bill that would allow veterinarian-certified pet medical marijuana cards, similar to the cards carried by people who have been prescribed medicinal marijuana.

For more information about Trupanion, visit: