A growing number of pet owners are using cannabis-derived products containing high doses of cannabidiol (CBD) and low or negligible doses of THC to alleviate pain, seizures, and other conditions. But what’s known about the science of cannabinoid medicine and pets?
Unfortunately, not a lot. But there are a few things to be learned from the science of cannabis and dogs and cats, even as the field emerges from decades of neglect.
As with humans, the question of using medical cannabis to improve the health of a dog or cat is a complicated one. There isn’t a lot of solid, peer-reviewed research examining its safety or effectiveness. That’s slowly changing, though, and the science of cannabis and pets recently took a big leap forward. In July 2018, the first clinical study examining the effects of hemp-based cannabidiol on arthritic dogs was published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, a leading international journal. The results were extremely encouraging.
That study, titled “Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs,” was led by Dr. Joseph Wakshlag of Cornell University. Wakshlag and colleagues measured the effects of a particular hemp-based cannabidiol product—ElleVet Sciences’ proprietary hemp oil blend—on pain and arthritis in a small sample of dogs.
The results were remarkable: More than 80% of the dogs in the study saw significant decrease in pain and improved mobility.
Few Other Studies
That’s only one study, though. As promising as it is, nobody should rely on a single study to decide on the right path for them and their dog or cat. And unfortunately, when it comes to pets and cannabinoid-based medicine, only a small number of studies have ever been published. (A search of the leading medical research databases turned up a grand total of four.)
Understanding the political, ethical, and scientific implications of using medical cannabis and hemp in animals is more urgent than ever, and there’s a lot to unpack.
Most Vets Can’t Touch CBD
You should know this up front: In most states, a veterinarian is not allowed to prescribe or recommend a cannabis product for your pet, regardless of the vet’s personal or professional opinion. Each state has its own veterinary board, and that board adheres to federal law concerning medical cannabis.
Even in California, where state law makes cannabis legal for all adults, the California Veterinary Medical Board clearly states: “There is nothing in California law that would allow a veterinarian to prescribe, recommend, or approve marijuana for treating animals. Veterinarians are in violation of California law if they are incorporating cannabis into their practices.”
Leafly spoke with Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian based in Oakland, CA, about this issue in 2017. At the time, Richter had mentioned an online petition he was working on to get a “compassionate care” law for animals in his state. Recently, Dr. Richter confirmed that a bill of this sort has recently passed through the state legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Full Article by Leafly