As we keep adding states to the list that legalize marijuana, so too are we adding potential uses for this flourishing herb. Why not give cannabis to our fine furry friends to help improve their quality of life when they are sick or dying?
Doug Kramer, a veterinarian in Los Angeles said “I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn’t doing everything I could to make their lives better…I felt like I was letting them down”. When his Siberian husky developed terminal cancer and stopped eating, he gave her small amounts of marijuana to improve her quality of life. Her appetite and energy returned and as a result he had six extra weeks with her. “I’d exhausted every available pharmaceutical pain option, even steroids”. However, he also states and sides with the AMA in that “we need to investigate marijuana further to determine whether the case reports I’m hearing are true or whether there’s a placebo effect at work. We also need to know what the risks are”.
Protections are given to physicians in states where medical marijuana is legal but no such protections apply to veterinarians. There are veterinarians who share Kramer’s views but are afraid to even talk about it.
Dr. Duncan Lascelles is a professor of surgery and pain management at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine and is interested in studying the effects of cannabis on pets but thinks that it is a long way off because of the complexity of determining which of the hundreds of extracts applies to which symptoms as “not all syndromes are alike”.
Pet owners though aren’t waiting for studies but instead believe that it’s worth the risk. Yet, in Colorado and at a clinic study in Renton, Washington, they have seen an increase in cannabis overdoses in dogs which seem to correlate with the increase in the number of licenses that have been issued. One should also keep in mind that these two states also have legal recreational marijuana and that may be a factor.
In that it is us humans who are making the choices for our pets, it is incumbent upon us that we keep our personal stashes out of their reach and that we consult a medical professional before administering marijuana to our pets and putting them in danger.