Research Shows CBD Lowers Seizures And Treats Pain, But Veterinarians Are Afraid To Talk

New medical research has provided evidence that marijuana may help dogs and cats cope with arthritis, epilepsy, anxiety and other ailments without the side effects of traditional drugs.


There's just one problem - veterinarians are afraid to talk about it for fear of breaking federal law.


30 US states make provisions for medical marijuana for humans, but 0 include animals.



Simply discussing marijuana as a treatment puts DVM's licenses at risk, said Dr. Jeffrey Powers, chair of the American Veterinary Medical Association's subcommittee on cannabinoids. That means pet owners interested in treating their animals with CBD have to go it alone.


California appears ready to pass the nation’s first law giving veterinarians the legal cover they need to answer questions about using cannabis for pets.


"A human can get their doctor's advice, but a dog can't, legally. It's bizarre," said Judy Boyle, 62, of Beaver Island, Michigan, whose dog Mac had for years been taking traditional prescription medicines for arthritis and anxiety. Medicines that caused his liver to fail.


Boyle decided to regularly give her 40-pound Australian Cattle Dog cannabinoid dog chews instead of the medicines that were damaging his liver. Five months later, he's calmer and has more energy. To top that, his liver function has returned to normal, Boyle said.


Cannabidiol is a cannabis plant extract also known as CBD. It is the featured ingredient in hemp oils, chews and other pet products that are gaining popularity. CBD is associated with pain relief and doesn't make you high. THC is the compound that causes euphoria, but it's absent in medical treatments.



The federal government still bans CBD as a controlled substance and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is cracking down on marijuana. A veterinarian could lose their license for simply discussing medical marijuana with a patient's family.


"Veterinarians are (currently) in violation of California law if they are incorporating cannabis into their practices," the state Veterinary Medical Board said in a statement.


Pet owners are bypassing veterinarians altogether. According to a 2018 nationwide survey of 1,068 dog owners by Colorado State University veterinary medicine researchers; nearly 80 percent of people who responded said they purchased hemp or marijuana products for their dogs.


In the online survey, pet owners reported that CBD products were nearly 44 percent more effective for a dog's pain relief and 41 percent more effective for anxiety than conventional medicines. But that is anecdotal evidence from an online survey.


What isn't anecdotal is the research being done at Cornell University, where researchers found CBD increases comfort and activity in dogs with arthritis, according to a study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science.


Colorado State University found that CBD led to a reduction in frequency of seizures in 89% of dogs with epilepsy, according to preliminary results of a study of their own.


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