Medical Marijuana for Pets
Medical marijuana has been a hot topic in the news. Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN reported that marijuana could have some major benefits when used for medical purposes. The debate over the use and legalization of marijuana continues from state to state. But did you also know that more and more people are using medical marijuana to treat their pets for conditions like separation anxiety, noise phobias, arthritis, chronic pain and even cancer?
Increase In Medical Marijuana Use For Pets
According to the Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Association (JAVMA) News, over the past few years, veterinarians, like Dr. Douglas Kramer in Los Angeles, have noticed an increase in people claiming to use the drug in treating their pets. Dr. Kramer who runs a mobile veterinarian practice – focusing on pain management and palliative care – told JAVMA News that approximately 300 people have told him that they have used medical marijuana to treat their pets in just the last two years! Even supplemental CBD hemp oil for dogs can help with their health problems.
Some have used it to stimulate cats’ appetites; others have used it to manage inflammation from arthritis in their pets and even one woman gave her horse “cannabis-infused butter” to ease painful swelling from the foot disease called laminitis according to Innovet Pet.
Kramer himself became personally interested in the use of medical marijuana for animals when his Siberian husky, Nikita, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “Nikita was wasting away and she’d stopped eating,” he said. “I’d exhausted every available pharmaceutical pain option, even steroids. At that point, it was a quality of life issue, and I felt like I’d try anything to ease her suffering.” Kramer began feeding Nikita small amounts of marijuana and the dog’s appetite returned and she rested more comfortably during her final months.
More Research and Support Needed
Based on his own experience with Nikita and reviews of the medical marijuana research, Dr. Kramer supports the idea of using the drug in pets, but also believes it deserves much more research. “I don’t want to come across as being overly in favor of giving marijuana to pets,” Kramer told JAVMA News. “My position is the same as the American Medical Association’s position. We need to investigate marijuana further to determine whether the case reports I’m hearing are true or whether there’s a placebo effect at work. We also need to know what the risks are.”
Dr. Dawn Boothe, director of the Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, agrees. She even said that she wouldn’t be surprised to, one day, see FDA-approved drugs made from cannabinoid derivatives for animal patients. While Boothe does not approve of indiscriminately giving all pets medical marijuana carte blanche; she does say that “there’s enough justification that we need to study it. My gut reaction is they probably do provide some therapeutic effect benefit.”
Veterinarians are not the only ones experimenting with the potential positive effects of medical marijuana for animals. Enest Misko, a 77-year-old patient from Chatsworth, CA, used medical marijuana to effectively treat his own chronic back pain. After experiencing relief from his pain, he began giving his 24-year-old cat, Borzo, a glycerin tincture of marijuana (specifically made for animals with the glycerin making the solution palatable) and noticed within a few days that Borzo appeared to be pain-free.
Even PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently told ABC News that they support the use of marijuana for medical purposes “if it’s truly, properly administered in the right amount and can relieve a dog’s pain.”
Whether or not medical marijuana becomes a widely accepted form of treatment for our beloved pets remains to be seen. But for pet guardians looking for new options in helping their animals cope with pain or quality of life issues, medical marijuana could be an option.
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