Doctors say medicinal cannabis may be the answer to ailing pets

With the legalization of cannabis just around the corner, veterinarians across the country are shifting their focus to its potential use in animals.

“There’s lots of varieties of opportunities that we need to look at so we can potentially supply these products to our pets in a way that is both safe and reproducible from dose to dose,” Rosedale Animal Hospital veterinarian and Grey Wolf Animal Health CEO Dr. Ian Sandler said.

Sandler said cannabis products will help pets deal with neurological issues, anxiety and pain.

With the current use of opioid-based treatment, he said he’s surprised vets are not allowed to prescribe any type of cannabis products.

Pot for pets? With legalization pending, Canadian veterinarians say it’s time

“We don’t think that’s really appropriate at this point because we are very used to using unlabeled veterinary drugs as well, in some cases, off-label human drugs if needed,” Sandler said.

As of Oct. 17, Sandler said there will be a slight change in Health Canada’s classification system, meaning veterinarians could potentially prescribe medicinal cannabis-based product to pets.

“If there were a drug that had a very specific description with a very specific therapeutic indication with a dose and a species noted – we could prescribe it – similar to any other human or animal drug that we do right now,” Sandler said.

Awaiting clarification, this does open a new door in veterinary medicine. However, legal cannabis could lead to other problems, like owners medicating pets on their own.

Pot for pets a growing trend in Canada, despite veterinarian warnings

“You don’t want to be in a situation where you make a mistake on dosing. It could have significant effects,” Sandler said.

Something Animal Clinic of Regina’s Dr. Lesley Sawa has experienced firsthand.

“We do see it fairly frequently, but I guess the best part of this now, is people won’t have to lie about it when they come in,” Sawa said.

“They can tell me straight out that their dog ate their bag of weed which is great because it’s easier for me and I can get to work faster.”

Both Sawa and Sandler said if your pet does consume cannabis, bring them to a vet right away.

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