One aspect that I wanted to explore further on my travels were the potential benefits of cannabinoids, which are products derived from the cannabis plant, for my patients.

Over the last couple of years we have been approached by an increasing number of pet owners, who wanted to use these components on their pets, which were suffering from a range of different conditions ( pre-dominantly arthritis, chronic pain and epilepsy). Although CBD (the non- high or intoxicating effect producing part) containing products are now legally available in the UK and in many other European countries, precious little is known about the efficacy and the best dosing ranges of these components in companion animals.

6 weeks ago I spoke to Enid Stiles ( at the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe (FVE) meeting in Bratislava. Enid is the Vice President of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and she was giving a presentation on the subject. The background was that Canada had legalized cannabis in October 2018 for human use and this had started intens research also in the veterinary field to get cannabinoids licensed for pets as well.

There was imens interest in Enid’s excellent presentation and her talk was certainly one of the highlights of the meeting, despite the fact that she too could not provide us with detailed answers regarding the use of cannabinoids in pets, as the research is still ongoing.

Even more reason for me to investigate this a bit more on my own, when I artived in Toronto.

To start off on this quest, I headed first for one of the now totally legal stores that was selling cannabinoids for human consumption and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised:

The store looked bright and clean and the products were displayed in professional packaging, not dissimilar to handsets in a mobile phone shop.

All products came with detailed information about their purpose and on their THC (the “high inducing ” component) and CBD content. In addition to this it took not more than 2 minutes, until a smartly dressed shop assistant offered further help and advice. The only thing missing was George Clooney walking in, to make it the complete Nespresso experience…..

It showed me two things – once legalized the consumption of cannabinoids becomes mainstream in no time and that there is a lot of money to be made by the companies involved.

Next stop was the trade exhibition at the WSAVA Congress…..

Here too where at least three different stands promoting cannabinoids for the veterinary market, but interestingly not displaying any packaging or any detailed information.

“We are here just to let you guys know that we are around and that we are working on it. Watch this space….” was the standard reply when visiting the stands.

Pharmaceutical companies paying for the probably most expensive exhibition space at any vet congress worldwide, just to say “hello” and without selling anything?….

The last time that – at least to my knowledge- something similar happened, was when Pfizer was about to launch Viagra and we all know what a commercial success that was…..

The next day I attended the only lecture on the subject titled: “Cannabis for pet pain” by the rather colorful S.Cital from – yes, you might have guessed it – California. 

His both enlightening and entertaining talk gave an insight into the complexities of investigating and identifying the individual components of the plant and of separating the useful molecules.

Recent research had indeed confirmed that especially CBDs have an anti-inflammatory effect and that cannabinoids have an effect on the speed of neurotransmission. The best therapeutic effect is achieved with oral formulations ( usually oils) and seemingly with a combination of THCs, CBDs and other analgesics where the concurrent use of cannabinoids often allows a reduction of the dosage of traditional pain killers. However, rather worrying were the findings of a recent Penn study, which showed that 70% of Cannabis products were mislabeled…..

So certainly encouraging but still a lot of work to be done.

Finally, on the last day of the conference I ran into Sarah Silcox, an Ontario based veterinary surgeon who is the President and Director of CAVCM, the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine. This organization is following the ongoing research closely and is collecting a lot of treatment date. They are also offering help and advice (at least to their members) and my gut feeling is, that over the next few years they will become very busy……

Published by The Blue Vet

I am a veterinary surgeon with a German and Norwegian educational background. I have been the founder and for over 20 years I have been the senior veterinarian at the Virginia Water Veterinary Clinic in Surrey, England. When starting this blog I was also the President of FECAVA, the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations. In the summer of 2019 I left my clinic to work as an international locum and clinical advisor. I am interested in all aspects of clinical companion animal medicine, in endurance sports and in traveling and meeting people with and without their pets and especially in sharing my knowledge with colleagues in other parts of Europe and the World.

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