Although there are no licensed veterinary cannabinoid products yet available in Denmark, the country’s dog owners seem to be administering cannabidiol (CBD) supplements to their pets in droves.
A recent study by researchers from the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen explored unlicensed cannabinoid use in Danish dogs through an anonymous online survey distributed via social media.
Of the 2,002 respondents, 38% indicated using or having administered cannabinoids to their dog. The most popular type of product was cannabidiol drops/oil (93%). Only 4% reported using delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol-based (THC) products, which can be a rather risky practice as dogs are more sensitive to the psychoactive properties of THC compared to humans
While cannabinoid products were used to treat or manage many different conditions, the three most common indications were pain alleviation, behavioural issues and allergy. The majority of owners reported a perceived good or very good effect; particularly in relation to pain alleviation (77%).
“One of the findings that surprised us was the diverse range of medical and behavioral conditions in their dogs for which Danish dog owners utilized cannabinoid products and how well the owners perceived the effect of the treatment,” state the researchers. “This suggests that systematic clinical studies are warranted within cannabinoid use in pet dogs.”
Products were mainly sourced online, but a surprising finding was 20 respondents indicated they had purchased cannabinoids through their veterinarian – even though it is illegal for veterinarians in Denmark to prescribe cannabinoids.
Acknowledging various limitations of the survey and advising caution in interpreting the results, the researchers stated:
“… this study supports the need for more evidence-based knowledge within the companion animal field of cannabinoids, as some dog owners self-prescribe cannabinoids for a wide variety of medical conditions in their dogs. Pet owners do request information on cannabinoid products and currently, it is challenging for veterinarians to provide evidence-based information and dosing recommendations.”
The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.
On a related note, UK researchers recently studied aspects of the safety and efficacy of long-term oral cannabidiol supplementation in cats.
Both studies stress the importance of pet owners having access to professional veterinary advice before starting their pets on cannabidiol.