• Niche Canada

CBD and Pets – Does the Future Look Friendly?

“I can’t imagine practising without it.” Those are the words of Dr. Kathy Kramer of the Vancouver Animal Wellness Hospital. She’s one of many voices speaking up about the benefits of CBD as a veterinary health product for pets.

In an interview earlier this year in the Georgia Straight, she says that while clinical research on pets and CBD has only just begun, there’s no lack of anecdotal evidence to show that the cannabinoid can provide effective relief for dogs and cats suffering from a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, cancer, anxiety, and epilepsy.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is non-psychoactive and does not produce a ‘high’. But, under the current regulations, vets are not allowed to prescribe CBD for their patients, leaving it up to pet owners themselves to make decisions about dosing and duration of the treatment.

Dr. Kramer points out that there are a number of conventional medications used by vets that haven’t been studied on domesticated animals, and many pet owners are turning to CBD as a treatment option because their pets often can’t tolerate the side effects associated with traditional medications. She says it will be pet owners that drive change in her industry and eventually compel Health Canada to approve CBD for pet care, so she encourages people to continue talking to their veterinarians about cannabis.

And, it seems that the federal government is receiving the message. This month, one of Canada’s largest cannabis companies announced it has received Health Canada approval for clinical trials of the effectiveness of cannabis-derived compound cannabidiol as a treatment for anxiety in animals.

Canopy Animal Health’s clinical trials represent the first time a company has sought federal regulatory approval for the practice of using the substance as a therapeutic treatment for animals, and they hope to provide a concrete body of evidence demonstrating how CBD affects different species and animal sizes.

New research will be welcome news to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine who have teamed up to urge Health Canada to amend the regulations to allow CBD as a veterinary health product for pets.

The CVMA looked at the issues and challenges of the therapeutic use of cannabinoids in veterinary medicine at a forum during their convention in Vancouver this summer.

CVMA president Dr. Troye McPhereson says pet owners are looking for guidance and answers, but there is currently no way to legally prescribe cannabis for animals. And, legal barriers to research mean dosage, toxicity, safety of cannabis-based pet drugs is unknown.

That isn’t stopping people from turning to oils and powders that contain CBD as a way to relieve suffering in their pets. Veterinarians want to be the primary source of health-related information and treatment for animals, but when it comes to CBD, the current regulations are preventing this from happening. They are hopeful that following legalization, Health Canada will take the necessary steps to classify CBD as a Veterinary Health Product. And, each clinical trial brings this hope one step closer to reality.