(PETS/ANIMAL WELFARE/MEDICINE) We love our animals and will do anything to stop their pain, but what if your beloved dog or cat was diagnosed with cancer and the vet’s medicine wasn’t enough? What would you do? Now with the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, many pet guardians are using the drug to ease their furry friends’ suffering.

There are many stories of animals including dogs, cats, and even horses who have had their health restored by marijuana treatment, but since marijuana is classified as an illicit drug, veterinarians aren’t legally allowed to prescribe cannabis to our pets. As a result, research on the the medical benefits of marijuana for animals is non-existent.

With many states now legalizing the use of medical marijuana for humans, the question remains: should veterinarians also be allowed to legally prescribe marijuana to our pets? Read on for more about this controversial subject, and let us know what you think in the comments’ section below. — Global Animal

As acceptance of medical marijuana grows, pet owners increasingly are using the drug to ease the suffering of their furry friends./Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk
As acceptance of medical marijuana grows, pet parents are increasingly using the drug to ease the suffering of their furry friends. Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

The Daily Beast, Miranda Green

Nikita was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she was in pain. She wouldn’t eat, barely moved and constantly whimpered. Removing the tumors from her body didn’t do much, nor did the medicine prescriptions she was given—but what did help was marijuana.

“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,” her doctor, Douglas Kramer, told a prominent medical journal.

After consuming small amounts of marijuana, Nikita’s appetite returned and she began greeting Kramer at the door again. Kramer says the weed gave Nikita six extra weeks of life.

Many pet owners consider marijuana a legitimate treatment for their pets' pain and anxiety./Photo credit: ipoll.com
Many pet caretakers consider marijuana a legitimate treatment to help pets’ suffering from pain and other medical conditions. Photo credit: ipoll.com

Now, doctors prescribing marijuana to patients battling cancer is nothing new. But there’s a wrinkle in this case. Nikita is a Siberian husky. Dr. Kramer is a veterinarian. And the medical journal in which he describes the case is the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association.

Kramer, known widely as the Vet Guru runs his own mobile practice that focuses on pain management. He’s part of a growing movement of people and experts who believe marijuana can be a cure for multiple pet medical conditions ranging from anxiety to appetite renewal to basic pain relief.

Peruse the Internet and you will find many a story of cats, dogs and even horses restored by marijuana treatment. Getting a pet high may have once been considered a bad party gag. But now some owners consider it a legitimate treatment option for some animals and the change is likely attributable to a change in acceptance of marijuana overall. This year, for the first time, a majority of Americans support cannabis legalization.

“With some states approving and legalizing the use of marijuana for humans it drives this conversation and pet owners’ curiosity as to whether or the not the use of marijuana for their pet may be beneficial,” said David Kirkpatrick, spokesperson for the American Veterinarian Medical Association, which represents over 84,000 working vets. “I think some pet owners who have used medical marijuana for their pets have said it has done what they consider to be wonders for their particular pet. But whether or not that can be scientifically justified at this point is unclear.”

Some veterinarians are considering the medical benefits of using marijuana to treat animals./Photo credit: dogsandcatsworld.com
Some veterinarians are considering the medical benefits of using marijuana to treat animals while others believe it’s too dangerous. Photo credit: dogsandcatsworld.com

Research on the medical benefits of marijuana for animals is all but non-existent due to marijuana’s current classification as an illicit drug. Because law prohibits vets from prescribing marijuana to animals, it’s near impossible for vets to conduct tests on animals’ reactions to the drug at universities and research centers.

There are also skeptics. Many veterinarians refuse to go on record to discuss the topic of marijuana for animals because of lacking scientific evidence. Others wholeheartedly believe marijuana offers no medical assistance, citing instances of pet overdose on cannabis as proof—something vets typically see when an animal accidentally ingests the plant. A recent study that came out this spring found that instances of animal toxicity cases quadrupled between 2005 and 2010, strongly correlating with the growing amount of registered medical marijuana users.

“There will have to be some proven scientific basis for marijuana’s use in pets,  and proving that will come down to an all encompassing legality change where people can use cannabinoids for testing, “ said Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a veterinarian at California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness.

He estimates that once federal laws lower the classification of marijuana, and there’s reliable proof to back it up, marijuana could become a viable alternative medicine for pets within the next ten years.

“Things have come a long way. I’m a certified veterinarian acupuncturist and the patients I see have chronic pain,” Mahaney continued “When I came out of school 14 years ago acupuncture was not a commonly accepted practice in pets—we are changing as an industry and veterinarians are recognizing that we need to do more for our pets than just give vaccines.”

More The Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/30/prescribing-pot-for-pet-pain.html

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