A Weimaraner by the name of Cooper, developed debilitating separation anxiety just around the time that he turned one-year-old. “He used to follow Jayme Kennedy from room to room. Kennedy couldn’t be out of Cooper’s range of vision,” says Kennedy, who is a writer in Los Angeles California. “It got to the point where if I had to leave the house, Cooper would completely fall apart. If someone knocks on the door, he would lose his mind completely, and drag his crate across the floor throughout the house.” And my friends, were talking about a 1 25- lb dog.
So Jayme, sound help from her vet, who recommended “doggie Xanax,” however, Jayme didn’t want to put him on anything long-turn that could affect his personality. So instead, Jayme who had family in the burgeoning business of cannabis-sound out therapeutic doses of CBD oil (which is, of course, one of the components of marijuana) to calm Cooper down. And she says it’s working. “My God he didn’t try to bust out of his crate when someone knocks on the door. He’s has gotten so much better. It helping in so many major ways.”
Cooper is definitely in good company. As more and more states loosen marijuana laws, the market for pet therapeutics is growing. And many owners like Jayme believe the drug helps their animals. In fact, my friend’s a study in the spring of 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinarian Medical Association found that, among people who had purchase hemp products for their pets, more than 64% of dog owners and 66% of cat owners felt the pets benefited.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has taken note of the rise in people’s use of cannabis on their pets, and in 2017 called for roadblocks on research to be finally lifted and this my dear friends is a most wonderful thing. Because our pets, just like us are finally receiving the help that they need for their bodies, in a natural way, without any side effect.
Within the cannabis plant you will find more than 80 components that have medicinal value, says Stephen Katz, who is the founder and president of Therabis, a company that produces treatments for pets made from hemp oil. Also, MyDailyChoice have many wonderful products that are designed to help your pets) “the two that have been studied most extensively are CBD and THC.”
CBD stands for the more than 60 cannabinoids found in marijuana. These chemical compounds which do not create a high-are also produce naturally by mammals, including us humans, cats and dogs and horses, in the endocannabinoid system. They play a major role in the body’s anti-inflammatory and pain-management system. Humans and animals have endocannabinoid receptors as a part of this system, which makes them susceptible to the effects of CBD from cannabis.
It’s build into our bodies, says James Gaynor, who is a veterinary anesthesiologist in Breckenridge Colorado, so it’s no surprise that people think these compounds will work. Although THC may have medicinal value for people, however, pets are particularly susceptible to the psychotropic element of it (they can suffer from a coma seizures or even death), so much research and product development for pets is focus on CBDs derived from hemp (a cannabis plant that has extremely low levels of THC). THC is what gives pot its psychoactive properties, accounting for the high people experience when they are using it.
Animals might potentially reap some of the same benefits from CBD as us humans seem to, says Lisa Moses, who is the head of pain and palliative care at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. “I am a palliative-care and chronic pain veterinarian, and lots of my patients have the same problem as us humans with cancer and chronic illness have-loss of appetite, nausea, loss of mobility. I would extremely love to see a therapy available that would address these problems.” However, says Moses, the research is not there as yet.
“Research on cannabis for the veterinary-patient population is in its infancy,” says Narda G Robertson, who is president and CEO of CuraCore Integrative Medicine and Educational Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. “Just like for humans the research money has been severely restricted because of the legal regulations surrounding the studies of marijuana.”
All products derived from the cannabis plant, including hemp oil and CBD, are classified as Schedule 1 drugs, what this actually means is, they are considered to have little to no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. “Because marijuana is considered illegal by our dear federal government, you have to go through a lot of obstacles to get permits to get marijuana to study it,” says Moses.
That frustrates practitioners who see potentials in these treatments. It’s absolutely crazy that hemp, especially, is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government,” says Gaynor. “Hemp has zero addiction potentials, and we have great physiologic data now emerging that it can be without a doubt beneficial. It can be beneficial for lots of different types of pain. We have also found that it can be really beneficial for anxiety, and in a number of dogs it can have an antiepileptic effects pretty consistently.”
Until very recently, animal experts have had nothing but anecdotal evidence and studies on humans to guide their way. In the fall of 2017, the school of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, launched the first large, peer-reviewed study of the use and effectiveness of CBD products for pets. Ana a clinical trial at Colorado State University investigated CBD as a treatment for osteoarthritis and seizures in dogs, found that 89% of dogs with epilepsy who receive CBD had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. (A very similar larger study remains underway.)
But, officially, the AVMA does not have a position on medical marijuana for pets, because “it is against the law in every state,” says Mike Topper, who is the former president of the AVMA. “Veterinarians making treatment decisions have to be in compliance with all federal, state and local laws and regulations.” However, meanwhile, people are using cannabis on their animals in huge numbers-and many are finding that it really does help. The AVMA’s advocacy arm has taken notice and is pushing for real changes that would make more research actually possible. The AVMA has already considers it essential to share information about toxicity with its member vets. “We help explain what is known about cannabis in animals, but there is not a whole lot that is really known,” says Topper.
With 60 + CBD compounds, and many different plants, there is absolutely no guarantee of consistence between products, notes Gaynor: “Just because a plant from one plant has an effect, it doesn’t necessary mean a plant from another place will have a similar effect.” Additionally, since there is no regulation of these products, there is no real guarantee that their labels accurately describes the true contents.
There might be undesirable ingredients not listed on the label says Roberson, including any contaminants pharmaceutical compounds unidentified species of plants and, or animals. We also typically don’t know the amount and nature of pesticides, herbicides or fungicides used in the growing and storage of the plant product however, the biggest risk may be what pets are accidentally getting from cannabis remedies, agrees Gaynor.
Hemp has been used in the past to help pull toxins out of the soil. There could be some products that have very undesirable compounds in them. There are independent laboratories that will test CBD products for contaminants and ensure they contain the compounds advertised in them, so Gaynor says it’s important for everyone interested in using these products to do due diligence on them.
“I’ve contact the companies and ask for a laboratory analysis of what’s in the product, and they will invariably say, hell No, it is proprietary information. I just don’t buy into that,” says Gaynor. “The drug companies come up with new drugs all the time, however, they need to tell us what’s really in them. There are probably only a couple of companies that will say, Here’s the analysis-here’s exactly what’s in it.” Gaynor urges clients to buy pet cannabis products from only a supplier who is willing to provide that information.
One thing veterinarians can say for sure is that the rise of the legal-marijuana movement has led to a spark in pets accidentally getting into edibles and suffering overdoses. Although there are no national figures, a study conducted in Colorado found that the number of cases of marijuana toxicity in pets quadrupled over a five-year period as license for human medical marijuana mushroomed in the state.
“In my hospital, I see at least one case a day in which a pet ate their owner’s edibles or marijuana and was sick,” says Moses. They have urinary incontinence, weakness in the hind end; sometimes they have altered states of consciousness and may stuporous or even comatose.” However, on the other hand, anecdotal evidence shows that CBD is definitely safe for pets. “It seems you can increase the dose pretty sufficiently without any side effects,” Gaynor says.
Robertson cautions clients do not try CBD without a visit to their vet. The idea approach would be consulting with their veterinarian first in order to find out what the problem might be, and then take a look at what options are available,” she says. “I get inquiries every single day from pet owners,” says Gaynor. “I guide them away from marijuana and into hemp and tell them the main concern is transparency.
We want to use a product that we are extremely confident in. Often they asked, will I be able to take my dog off all of his pain medication? And I say, probably not. This needs to be a multimodal approach, and CBD’s are likely to be one part of the actual puzzle. I recommend people seek out veterinarians who can guide them through all of this.” But until clinical research catches up with the practice of using CBD on pets, veterinarians are being forced to help patients like Cooper without much good science to guide the way, without any doubts.
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