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Cannabinoids in Veterinary Medicine

A recent CBC radio documentary on using medical marijuana in dog makes this blog very timely.

Canadians have had access to medical marijuana for years and yet veterinarians, even holistic practitioners, have been slow to incorporate this herb into our treatment plans for aging pets or pets with chronic pain or with cancer.  In part, this reluctance is due to the extreme sensitivity dogs exhibit to the THC molecule which is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant as well as questions about the consistency of product, safe dosing and legality. There are, however; veterinarians who feel strongly that we should use and study non-THC cannabinoids in our veterinary patients.

Animals as primitive as a sea squirt have an endocannabinoid system, where naturally occurring molecules activate receptors in the nervous and immune system causing modulation of the nervous system, embryologic development and neural plasticity. Neuroprotection, improved immune response, reduced inflammation, abnormal cell death (apoptosis), improved metabolism and pain relief also occur when this system is activated.

Cannabis plants are rich in non-toxic cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids which are all molecules known to be medically useful in herbal medicine.  Veterinary oncologists are advocating for use of cannabinoids in improving the quality of life in cancer patients.  Also, there may be a role for cannabinoid use in allergic skin disease, and some epileptic patients might benefit.

Cannabis products can be formulated with very minimal levels of the THC that causes toxicity in dogs.  In the United States, there are several products available in the veterinary mileu, and we anticipate a hemp product chew for pets to reach the Canadian market soon.  If you are interested in exploring cannabinoid treatment for your pet, visit your holistic veterinarian for assistance in working out safe forms and safe doses of this intriguing plant.

Written by Full Circle Veterinary Alt. 

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