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Hot Topic: Medical Marijuana For Pets

by Lori Hehn - Jul 20, 2016 8:00:00 AM
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It is only a matter of time until marijuana for medical and recreational use is approved in the majority of states. As some states gain approval, toxicities in pets from this drug have increased. But what about potential medical use in pets for pain control, cancer, and helping quality of life during end-stage diseases?

As I started to read various articles on this topic, there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence that pets may benefit from its use in proper form and amounts. I read one account of a cat with end stage chronic renal failure that greatly regained quality of life, was eating, and more content after starting it.

And what about Bernie, a Swiss Mountain Dog that had his terrible seizures cured by its use? And Monkey, a cat with intestinal cancer who began playing, eating, and had increased energy after starting it? No one is suggesting that their pet get high, but rather may benefit from cannabinoid products that are very low in THC. In humans it is being used for many conditions such as chronic pain, glaucoma, cancer, and seizures. The concern in veterinary medicine is that there has not been enough research on its use in animals. There are, however, already hemp commercially available formulas for pets and many stories providing positive evidence that in fact it might be a miracle drug for some animals. 

While many may be opposed, the stories I have read on this topic just simply can't be ignored. Isn't it our duty as veterinarians and animal advocates to provide quality of life for our patients? Marijuana is currently considered a Class I drug, in the same category as heroin. Federal Reclassification of Marijuana May Impact Its Medical Use, as the DEA is considering moving it to a Class II drug (like the drugs we give daily to our patients- Ketamine, Morphine, Fentanyl, Valium, etc.) Just take it into consideration; do some reading and research with an open mind, and keep it on your list as a possibility for future treatment of your patients if and when it is available to us to use as practitioners and depending on your state's laws. Be expecting questions on this in the clinic, as owners gain knowledge about its use in pets.

If your hospital veterinarian is using this for patients, we would love to hear about your experience with its use in animals. 

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About Lori Hehn

Lori Hehn is a practicing veterinarian and a contributor and content manager with XPrep Learning Solutions. She has a drive for continual learning and enjoys interacting with veterinary and vet tech students. She also writes veterinary learning books for children.

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