Could Medical Marijuana be used for Dogs?
The answer to this question is that it already has been. In the United States, where medical marijuana can be prescribed to humans in 20 states, a few vets have experimented with giving dogs cannabis as a form of pain relief. The most famous case was that of Doug Kramer, who admitted to giving his terminally ill husky, Nikita, cannabis towards the end of her life.
Dr Kramer told the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, ‘Nikita was wasting away, and she’d stopped eating. I’d exhausted every available pharmaceutical pain option, even steroids. At that point, it was a quality-of-life issue, and I felt like I’d try anything to ease her suffering.’
Benefits v Consequences
Kramer reported that Nikita’s appetite returned after the treatment and he was able to spend a further six weeks with her. The AVMA does not recommend that other vets or pet owners follow Doug Kramer’s example as no clinical studies on the effect of cannabis on dogs have been undertaken. There is no way of knowing if the drug has side effects or how large a dosage is safe.
Nevertheless, there are widespread reports of owners and vets choosing to give the drug to their pets in order to alleviate suffering. Some shops that sell cannabis even offer cannabis infused dog treats.
Worryingly, the increasing legal availability of cannabis in the US has been accompanied by a fourfold increase in the number of pets being treated for cannabis overdoses. Two dogs even died from consuming large quantities of cannabis infused butter. The AVMA recommends keeping marijuana in a place where pets can’t reach it.
In the UK medical marijuana is far less common. The only prescribed cannabis derived drug being Sativex, a treatment for spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. As a result, British vets offering medical marijuana for dogs may be some way off.