The veterinary market is inundated with cannabis products, but do they work? A pilot clinical trial looks at this modality’s effectiveness for canine pain relief.
The laws surrounding the use of cannabis products in veterinary medicine continue to evolve. Yet, despite ongoing legal restrictions and uncertainties, many pet owners are turning to cannabis products to help improve their pets’ quality of life.
Studies1,2 have found that the most common reasons US and Canadian dog owners choose cannabis products for their dogs are to reduce their pain, anxiety, and inflammation. When owners were asked to compare cannabis products with conventional medications, the majority reported cannabis products to be more effective (Table 1). Equally important, side effects are reported by only a minority of owners, with the most common side effects including sedation and dry mouth/excessive drinking.
|More effective than conventional meds||Same as conventional meds||Less effective than conventional meds|
|Provide pain relief||54.5%||75.0%||37.6%||18.3%||8.9%||6.7%|
|Help relieve anxiety||53.7%||75.0%||39.3%||16.7%||6.8%||8.3%|
Based on owner reports that cannabis products can help provide pain relief for dogs, a 90-day pilot clinical trial was implemented in Colorado, US to assess the impact of a full-spectrum product produced by Hemp My Pet on dogs with chronic pain3. Results were promising. Of the 32 dogs that completed the study, 30 dogs demonstrated improved pain support as measured by systematic pain palpation, mapping of pain patterns, informal gait analysis, metabolic profile, and owner interviews. Furthermore, of the 23 dogs in the study that were taking gabapentin at the time of enrollment, 10 were able to discontinue gabapentin entirely, and an additional 11 were able to have their daily gabapentin dose reduced.
Subjective impressions by the dogs’ owners supported the objective data. Owners noticed positive differences in energy, stamina, and overall well-being. As one owner explained, “He’s sassier and more energetic, less pain. We’re probably at an eighth of the Gabapentin… and so much, much better. Very exciting.” Another owner reported, “She’s back to her little self. I’ve noticed a big difference. People that walk by (we’re out in front all the time), and say ‘Oh my gosh, she’s feeling better, she’s doing so good, what are you doing with her?’”
The demonstrated effectiveness of cannabis products on pain reduction and reports by owners suggest that cannabis can be of benefit to dogs suffering from chronic pain. Yet, due to legal restrictions, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe, or in many cases even recommend, cannabis products. These laws understandably make many veterinarians feel uncomfortable talking about cannabis, as suggested by data in a recent study in which less than half of responding veterinarians indicated feeling comfortable talking to pet owners about cannabis4. This unfortunately leaves owners with few options from which to obtain accurate, unbiased cannabis product and company information.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most pet owners cite cannabis company websites as their primary sources for pet cannabis product information1. Yet, access to factual, unbiased information on cannabis products is critically important. For this reason, Fido Fort Collins was created to help pet owners make informed choices about cannabis companies/brands (no funds/donations from cannabis companies are accepted for the creation or maintenance of this website). Fido Fort Collins’ mission is to freely disseminate unbiased cannabis company information to pet owners to help support and promote the well-being of people and their companion animals.
In summary, increasing numbers of pet owners are looking to cannabis products to improve their pets’ quality of life. Within legal limitations, it is the hope that the scientific and veterinary communities do their part to help owners with this quest.
- Kogan LR, Hellyer PW, & Schoenfeld-Tacher R. (2018). Dog owners’ use and perceptions of cannabis products. JAHVMA
- Kogan, LR, Hellyer, PW, Silcox, S, Schoenfeld-Tacher, R. (2019). Canadian dog owners’ use and perceptions of cannabis products. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 60(7), 749-755.
- Kogan, LR, Hellyer, PW, Downing, R. (2020). The Use of Cannabidiol-Rich Hemp Oil Extract to Treat Canine Osteoarthritis-Related Pain: A Pilot Study. American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. 58, 1-10
- Kogan, LR, Schoenfeld-Tacher, R. Hellyer, PW, Rishniw, M. (2019). US veterinarians’ knowledge, experience and perception regarding the use of cannabidiol for canine medical conditions. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, section Veterinary Humanities and Social Sciences, https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00338