Monday, July 2, 2018

Medical Cannabis and Veterinary Medicine

This is a topic that has hit close to home for this medical cannabis patient, advocate & freelance writer; a topic of great importance that needs to become a reality and part of state medical cannabis programs. 

It was 10 days ago just before bed as I was falling asleep when Tecumseh, my Australian Cattle Dog/Canaan Dog, had his first idiopathic epileptic seizure. I was moments away from falling asleep and heard a strange noise in the room only to find Tecumseh in a full blown tonic-clonic or convulsive seizure(grand mal) . His first seizure was a bad one, I initially thought something was electrocuting him due to how violent the seizure was. Tecumseh’s first seizure had a duration of almost three minutes and thirty seconds, for me it felt like 3 hours…Tecumseh suffered a slight hearing loss after that first one. I’m very lucky to have a great and caring practitioner for Tecumseh, Dr. Lily Meisner at 4 Paws Pet Hospital in Albuquerque.

Currently in the United States, 30 states now have legalized medical cannabis programs. What does this mean: One in five Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal for adults 21 and older. One in five. The ASPCA reports a pet ownership rate in the US of thirty-seven percent and a look around in the medical cannabis community shows how many of us are animal lovers. But no state allows pet doctors to prescribe or recommend cannabis use for animals, meanwhile, federal law still views cannabis as a drug with no medicinal value and outlaws it under any condition. However, providers in states where medical cannabis laws are passed can recommend it to qualifying patients without fear of prosecution.

Cannabis based medicines work so efficiently because of the endocannabinoid system, present in all humans and many animals as well. This system consists of a series of receptors throughout the body that are configured only to accept cannabinoids, especially tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Two types of receptors have been identified: CB1 receptors, predominantly in the brain, nervous system, glands and organs; and CB2 receptors, found mainly in the regulatory cells of the immune system. Many tissues contain both receptors, each linked to a different action. A key role of the endocannabinoid system is controlling inflammation by up-regulating or down-regulating the immune response. An overactive response can lead to allergies and auto-immune problems; an underactive one can leave the body susceptible to infections and the unchecked proliferation of cancer cells.

All mammals, in fact, most animals, have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). What we are still learning is how the ECS varies between species, and how these differences may affect their responses to cannabis-based medicines. One difference that has received a lot of attention is the reported differences in CB1 receptor concentration in dogs vs. humans. This is thought to be why dogs are much more sensitive to the effects of THC on initial exposure and are at higher-risk for THC toxicity than humans.

In recent years there has been a lot research on the benefits of cannabis for people in treatment of illnesses with conditions such as muscle spasms, seizures, chronic pain, nausea from cancer and poor appetite to name a few. PETA has agreed on the use of medical cannabis for pets. On their website, the animal advocacy group says: "Human caregivers have the right to speak for their animal companions and to explore alternative treatments to ease pain and suffering." For canines, an estimated 1 to 5% of all dogs can suffer from either symptomatic or idiopathic seizures. Symptomatic seizures are typically caused by abnormalities that exist inside or outside of the brain (e.g., encephalitis, head trauma, metabolic health problems, lead poisoning). Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) is a group of epileptic disorders that are believed to have a strong underlying genetic basis.

In the first study to attract substantial independent funding in the United States, a neurologist at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has begun enrolling patients in a clinical trial to test the effects of the cannabis compound cannabidiol on 60 epileptic dogs who respond poorly to standard treatment. The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) has awarded the research $356,022.

At Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama, the director of the clinical pharmacology laboratory also plans a clinical trial of cannabidiol in epileptic patients, along with other cannabis-related research. Her work has received $150,000 in analytical equipment and pilot-study funding, with a promise of more to come, from a nonprofit called Pet Conscious.

Talk To Your Vet About Cannabis For Your Pet First.

Remember our pets can’t talk to us, it’s up to you advocate for and protect your furry family member(s). Before going to a local store or online to make a purchase, talk to your Vet. People selling you a product they intend to profit from are going to tell you that it is safe for you pet, when this may not be entirely true. Especially products for your pet to eat, like Hemp CBD Dog treats. With recent studies showing how 70% of Hemp CBD products marketed for human use being mislabeled - you better believe it is happening with pet hemp CBD products as well.

Don’t believe everything you are told at a dispensary about pets and medical cannabis, remember these medical cannabis program dispensary systems and recreational ones are structure to serve people and not only can they not give people medical advice they can not give you medical advice for your pets. Despite that many are now carrying products for pets. Products should clearly state the cannabinoid contents and should be lab-tested by third-party laboratories for potency, pesticides and solvents to ensure safety and efficacy and its very hard to find any who are doing this right now.

Just like people, our pets are going to benefit most from medical cannabis products that are full spectrum cannabis oils/products to allow for the entourage effect.

To understand the effect of cannabis on animals, it helps to know a little of the science. If you’re considering medical cannabis for your pet, here are some important points you want to keep in mind. According to Oakland-based veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter, cannabis can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions, one key difference with animals is that it’s very easy to inadvertently give too much cannabis to your pets as they are more sensitive to it than people are. Whether you live in a prohibition state or not, it’s okay to talk to your vet about cannabis medicine. The conversation has to start somewhere, and even if your veterinarian knows next to nothing about cannabis – that’ll change if enough people start asking.

Dr. Gary Richter is the owner and medical director of two award-winning veterinary hospitals in Oakland, California and has teamed up with The Sacred Plant Docuseries to provide great information on cannabis for pets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports on the success for Phoenix, a 20-year-old Paso Fino horse in southern California. Before resorting to euthanizing Phoenix, the owner, Becky Flowers fed the horse cannabis. After all, Flowers herself had found medical cannabis to be a more effective analgesic than the medication she had been prescribed for pain associated with spinal spurs, arthritis, and several recent wrist surgeries. “Cannabis offers more relief to me than Norco, so why wouldn’t it also help Phoenix?” she reasoned. Within an hour of ingesting a small amount of cannabis, Phoenix was walking, eating, and drinking, according to Flowers. She boils the cannabis plant, then makes the extract into a butter that she feeds the horse once a day.

If you decide to give your pet cannabis medicine, get informed. The medicine you give your animal should have the same standards for anything you would put in your own body. Make sure the product is safe and tested for cannabinoid content, quality, and is free from any contaminants or additives. Seek guidance from a vet, if at all possible. Start your furry friend off on a low dose of cannabis medicine. And monitor the effects that cannabis has on their experience because, as George Eliot wrote, “Animals are such agreeable friends―they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”

Resource: First Aid Tips for Pet Owners
First Aid Dog Seizure
Step 1: DO NOT place your fingers or any object in the dog's mouth. Step 2: Pull the dog away from walls and furniture to prevent self-injury. Step 3: Wrap the dog in a blanket to help protect it from injury. Step 4: When the seizure has stopped, contact your veterinarian for further instructions.