Everyone wants to try marijuana right now as the new miracle cure for many ailments. Some of the potential uses for cannabis in humans according to Health Canada include palliative care, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, to stimulate the appetite in cancer or AIDS patients, MS, epilepsy, chronic and acute pain, arthritis, movement disorders like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, glaucoma, asthma, stress and psychiatric disorders, dementia, skin inflammation, IBD, anti-cancer and many emerging potential uses as well. There is a lengthy list of pharmacological actions of cannabis on various systems of the body. It almost seems like a dream come true with all of these positive effects for humans.
Is it too good to be true though? What about in dogs? There are very few published studies in dogs. The ones that have been published have been funded by the large cannabis companies themselves such as the work done at Cornell Vet School, with ElleVet on osteoarthritis, or Canopy Growth Corp that has been given the green light to research cannabis use for anxiety in animals. However, little by little, there is more research emerging due to legalization in various US states and in Canada. Colorado State University and Auburn University are currently doing research on cannabis use in epilepsy and have looked at its use in osteoarthritis as well in dogs. The Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon , has embarked on a collaborative effort with human physicians, called the Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan that will help investigate applications of cannabis for humans and animals.
However, since we are still in a weird no man’s land with respect to research, lack of approved products etc., veterinarians have to follow the advice of their respective licensing bodies when talking to clients about CBD. The College of Veterinarians of Ontario states: “Veterinarians can educate clients about the risks of cannabis to animals and stay informed about cannabis products that Health Canada has approved for use in animals. Currently, there are no approved drugs with cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) for animals. There are veterinary health products (VHP) with hemp that are approved for sale in Canada; these are low risk substances used to maintain or promote the health and welfare of animals and do not make health claims. VHPs can contain ingredients such as hemp seed derivatives containing no more than 10 ppm THC, which will be exempt from the Cannabis Act. These products can be identified by a notification number on the label. Pet owners should be aware of unapproved products being marketed to consumers. If a cannabis product does not have a drug identification number (DIN) or a notification number (VHP) then its safety and efficacy cannot be verified.”
So, it’s a bit of buyer beware right now and it makes it hard for veterinarians to discuss or recommend this product at the moment! Also remember that the THC compound is toxic to dogs, whereas CBD seems to be less so. It is also important that you let your vet know if you are giving your dog CBD or hemp products as they could interfere with other medications being used.