Before it was made illegal, marijuana was used medicinally for centuries, dating as far back as 10,000 years in China, Egypt and India. Fast forward to 2015, and medical marijuana has been legalized in over half of the United States.

People suffering from many different medical conditions, such as epilepsy, cancer, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and post traumatic stress disorder, have experienced symptom relief from the use of different forms of medical marijuana. This includes the use of targeted cannabinoid therapy, like cannabidiol (CBD) oil, that has recently become more well known for significantly reducing the seizures caused by childhood epilepsy.

Though still a bit controversial in some circles, the use of medical marijuana in children and adults is being explored further, and clinical trials for cannabidiol treatments in children have even been approved in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

Although it it being explored for human use, very little research has been completed on the efficacy of the use of medical marijuana to treat man’s best friend — canines. One study from 1988 did recognize that CBD has a “high protective index,” and that it worked similarly to phenobarbital and phenytoin as an anticonvulsant in dogs.

Now, one man in San Diego, CA says that the use of CBD has significantly improved his 11 year old dog’s health after an injury.

David Bourgouin's dog Reef

David Bourgouin’s dog, Reef (photo above), injured himself while jumping a fence. The injury caused a cyst the size of a lemon to form between Reef’s chest and leg. The cyst caused extreme pain and limited Reef’s mobility. Surgery to remove the cyst was $6,000, and Bourgouin elected to try an alternative therapy instead.

Bourgoin reported to NBC that he was familiar with cannabidiol (CBD), and went to a facility in Carlsbad, CA to purchase it for Reef. He explained,

“Knowing what I know about CBD, I decided this is what I needed to do for him.”

In this particular situation, Reef experienced great results. He has been able to run and play again without constant pain.

Reef

Veterinary anesthesiologist, Amber Hopkins, with the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association told NBC that this was no surprise. Hopkins reported,

“I think that there has been shown to be a lot of potential for cannabinoids to be very beneficial in animals for management of various things like epilepsy, pain management, anti-nausea.”

Although this type of therapy may be promising, veterinarians are not legally permitted to recommend the use of any form of medical marijuana under federal law. Hopkins continued to NBC,

“There’s very little scientific evidence that supports efficacy, safety studies, dose regimes that have been well defined in animals.”

kelly conway

In 2014, CNBC shared the story of Georgia (pictured above with owner), a 5 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a neurological disease that causes painful cysts to develop in the spinal cord. Georgia’s condition did not respond to traditional medications, so her owner, Kelly Conway, was forced to explore other options. She discovered CBD derived from industrial hemp, and began treating Georgia with it.

Conway reported to CNBC that the CBD therapy significantly improved Georgia’s health. Conway said,

“It has truly been a miracle and I don’t say that lightly. I feel like I have a whole new dog. Georgia’s happy and relaxed. She’s not in pain. It’s amazing.”

Huffington Post reported similarly successful situations, in 2013, where cannabinoid therapy did not cure the dogs’ medical condition, but it did relieve symptoms like pain, joint stiffness, and muscle tension. For example, veterinarian Doug Kramer of Los Angeles reported that treating his Siberian husky with cannabis after surgery to remove cancerous tumors relieved her pain and allowed her to eat again. He gives the CBD credit for the husky living an extra 6 weeks.

While there are some veterinarians who support the use of cannabidiol treatment for pets, there is not enough scientific research to confirm the efficacy and safety at this time. It does seem, however, as though it may be a viable option, and is worth further exploration.

Determining the proper dose of CBD for a pet is difficult, and it is not recommended to begin dispensing to pets without thorough cannabinoid therapy knowledge and experience. It is very important not to dispense medical marijuana that is intended for human consumption to pets at all because they do experience adverse effects from the psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is contained in most medical marijuana.

photo credit: zastavaki

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