Research project probes dog owners

Informal portrait of Ty, a Japanese Chin.

PHOTO: MARSHALL REYHER

A research team from Colorado State University (CSU) (USA) is surveying U.S. dog owners about medical marijuana and hemp in their pets’ diet.

“We’re very interested in the use of cannabis based products in animals, especially the reasons why pet owners turn to cannabis products for their pets,” said Dr. Peter Hellyer of the school’s Department of Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He’s working with Drs. Lori Kogan and Regina Schoenfeld on the project.

U.S. research expanding

CSU is among universities in Colorado and across the USA conducting research on a wide range of applications for hemp under government controlled hemp trials ongoing in as many as 30 U.S. states.

The initiative is looking for feedback from American dog owners who currently give cannabis-based products to their dogs, and probing the attitudes of other dog owners. The survey asks a wide range of questions regarding awareness of such products, usage, legality at the state level, past purchases and brand recognition.

The team says the results will help veterinarians better understand the expectations and concerns that dog owners have when they purchase cannabis products for their dogs. The research team will also submit a paper based on the survey results to veterinary-oriented publications.

‘A lot of interesting questions’

“We believe there are a lot of interesting questions to be asked as cannabis becomes more widely accepted by our clients and colleagues,” Hellyer said.

Several boutique hemp companies in North America and Europe are already making CBD-infused doggie edibles, promoting them based on their anti-inflammatory effects, and to ease pain, seizures and skin conditions. Proponents also say some elements of cannabis in a dog’s diet can stimulate appetite and address anxiety, aggression and neurological disorders.

Application of medical marijuana to dogs is based primarily on cannabinoid receptors that are present in canines (They’re also present in humans). That’s been the general scientific basis as researchers and entrepreneurs have ventured into the hemp pet food niche. They cite anecdotal reports which they hope will serve as a foundation for more medically accepted studies and scientific evidence.