Can Pot for Pets help end the suffering of our companion animals?

Although in traditional medical circles using marijuana to treat people remains a controversial topic, why can’t this popular weed help alleviate the constant suffering and intractable pain that is endured by companion animals who are terminally ill?

Pot for Pets
Photo (modified): Dank Depot on Flickr
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Colorado and Washington State have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Thousands of people are taking advantage of the herb to alleviate pain, to deal with devastating illnesses and to counter the miserable side effects of chemotherapy. Additionally, many other patients claim numerous benefits with the judicious use of marijuana.

Since it appears that medical marijuana has been helping people deal more effectively with a wide variety of medical problems; as of January 2015 twenty three states and the District of Columbia have already legalized the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of many chronic conditions in spite of the fact that the mainstream veterinary profession remains skeptical and extremely concerned about whether the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of pets is warranted.

But according to HuffingtonPost.com, California resident Laura Bugni-Daniel loudly sang its praises. After watching her aging bulldog vomiting and suffering for two years, she was able to help relieve his pain considerably with the small, measured amount of cannabis she put in what she called her “magic cheese.”

Dubbed the “Vet Guru”, veterinarian, Dr. Doug Kramer 38, also speaks out in favor of the use of marijuana to manage pain in terminally ill pets. Kramer said,

“I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn’t doing everything I could to make their lives better. I felt like I was letting them down.”

But is it a good idea to use this mode of treatment? Kramer thinks the answer is that it depends on whether your pet could be classified as a medical marijuana patient.

Years ago, Kramer treated his own dog, a Husky named Nikita. When she had cancer, his homemade pot tinctures helped her regain her appetite and alleviated her pain. He said “I do think there are therapeutic benefits to it.”

But Kramer is one of the very few veterinarians who are willing to even talk about using medical marijuana in the treatment of pets. Kramer claims that since rats and dogs have been used in many medical studies on the effects of marijuana in place of humans, with results that suggested that “mammals have the same cannabinoid receptors as humans do”, doesn’t it stand to reason that pets “would benefit in the same ways?”

Kramer has been doing extensive research on the use of marijuana for pets and has accumulated over 500 case studies. In his research he has used surveys distributed at marijuana dispensaries and other positive feedback. Most of the people who are treating their dogs and cats with marijuana are using it to ameliorate their pet’s pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. Kramer has also received many phone calls from other veterinarians who are curious about medical marijuana treatment for pets.

Pot for Pets
Pot for Pets. Photo: Flickr user Kayla Sawyer

While the use of medical marijuana in pets may hold some promise, there remain many veterinarians who not keen about the use of medical marijuana treatment for pets citing that with the concomitant rise of humans using the drug there has been an increase in cases of accidental marijuana overdoses in companion animals.

Barry Kellogg, senior veterinary advisor to the Humane Society of the United States said,

“Sometimes public sentiment and activity gets ahead of the scientific background and that can be dangerous.”

At the same time, managers of marijuana clinics claim that bad reactions can be prevented with proper dosage, and there are a growing number of veterinary practitioners who feel the drug has great merit.

Even though there is a growing interest in the use of medical marijuana for pets who are appropriate, the jury is still out until sufficient research can back up the claims of its worth. But advocates are highly concerned that it may be a decade or more before researchers can scientifically attest to its efficacy and safety.

In spite of the plethora of positive anecdotal reports from pet owners and the handful of veterinarians who are using medical marijuana in their practice at this time, according to Critterology cannabis is considered to be highly toxic to cats, dogs and other animals. So before pet guardians think that it is okay to share their medical marijuana with their pets, since presently it is not considered to be safe for pets, great care must be taken not to expose them to this substance.

What are your thoughts about the use of medical marijuana for pets? Tell us in a comment.

17 thoughts on “Can Pot for Pets help end the suffering of our companion animals?”

  1. This is a good point. Unfortunately, many people who think it’s “dangerous” would prefer to use vet prescription pain killers, but we know how dangerous they are. All we need to do is look at the statistics, and pay attention to the “warnings” of potential side effects on the advertisements of the drug companies themselves.

    Reply
    • Most presciption pain killers whether they be for humans or animals are opiate based. Not only do they have some horrendous side effects, but many are highly addictive.

      For the most part, THC (the drug in cannabis) has never been thought of as a deadly drug. Even when used recreationally, a fatal cannabis overdose in humans would take 40,000 times the amount of THC that it took to get them high in the first place. By comparison, it would only take 5 – 10 times the amount of alcohol it takes to get drunk, to kill you through alcohol poisoning.

      Obviously I don’t know if the same is true of cats, but I do think medical grade cannabis could potentially be of help to some cats.

      Reply
  2. I find this discussion very interesting, considering that we trust our vets to give drugs with well known detrimental side effects to our pets. Of course, we
    don’t usually ask about the side effects, and most vets may not even tell you.

    In the last 3 months, my cat has had serious reactions to drugs used in ear cleaning. One was the anti-biotic Tresaderm, the others were those given to sedate/anti sedate her. Serious side effects resulted.

    This was my first experience with this kind of thing. I found out later that one of the drugs had actually been recalled only a year before!

    I trust direct plant medicine over synthetic drugs, and wouldn’t hesitate to use cannabis for my cat.

    Think about the health issues and death caused by prescription drugs. Compare that with any health issues and death associated with cannabis.

    Know any drug that cures cancer,epilepsy? Cannabis does, in many cases.

    It’s interesting that people who know nothing about cannabis think it’s dangerous, in spite of all the information available.

    It’s like dry cat food that is recommended by many vets, when the information on how “dangerous” it is for our pets, is available. We choose to rely on our vets, who don’t know much about nutrition.

    Reply
    • Doctors in Holland can legally prescribe medical cannabis to treat patients. They even have 3 different grades dependant on the level of pain relief, muscle spasm control etc., required by the patient.

      It’s used to treat a wide range of ailments such as therapy resistant glaucoma, nausea, chronic or actue pain – including phantom limb pain.

      We know that declawed cats and those with missing limbs can also experience phantom pain, so perhaps medical cannabis or hemp could help them too?

      Reply
  3. I know the effects of weed on people and it is not positive in the long run. I would be very cautious about using it with my fur children

    Reply

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