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5 quick Q&As on cannabidiol use in veterinary practice
Get the lowdown on what conditions CBD has shown efficacy for, where to learn more about it, what supporting role you can play, and more.
Q: What's the one thing you wish pet owners understood about cannabidiol (CBD) in dog treats?
A: If I had a magic wand, I'd teach everyone in the world about the numerous therapeutic effects of cannabinoids when used safely and under the direction of a cannabis-trained veterinary practitioner. In addition, I'd tell them that CBD is only one of hundreds of phytocannabinoids available.
Q: What pet conditions or concerns do CBD dog treats address?
A: If we are talking about ElleVet Mobility Chews, I would refer to the recent study published out of Cornell University that shows a wide safety profile and great success in pain reduction related to osteoarthritis in dogs.1 But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Dogs with conditions such as epileptic seizures, anxiety, acute pain, poor appetite and nausea could also experience benefits from cannabinoid-infused treats. Preliminary results from an in vitro study looking at the cancer killing ability of ElleVet in four different canine cell lines were also recently released.2 In addition, preliminary data from Dr. Stephanie McGrawth's lab at Colorado State University reportedly showed 89% of canines that received CBD in a clinical trial had a reduced frequency of seizures compared to 43% in the control group. While we don't have studies for specific conditions other than OA in dogs published so far for companion animals, we do have numerous studies in lab animal models and humans on the efficacy of cannabis products for several conditions such as epilepsy, anxiety, inappetence and nausea.
Q: What particular role can veterinary technicians play in educating pet parents about CBD?
A: In the words of Dr. Casara Andre, founder of Veterinary Cannabis Education and Consulting, we must teach harm reduction to veterinary staff and pet owners. There are too many bogus products flooding the market. The only way for our patients to be safe is if veterinary personnel take the initiative to educate themselves on cannabis products, despite federal or state laws on the topic of prescribing, recommending, discussing or dispensing cannabis products.
Technicians can act as liaisons between DVMs and clients' questions and concerns. Veterinary Cannabis also offers a program for technicians to become certified consultants.
Q: What would you recommend to other vet team members when they discuss CBD in dog treats?
A: If team members are asked about CBD or cannabis products, I would encourage them to pass the question off to someone who is well-versed on the endocannabinoid system, potential drug interactions, the pros and cons of cannabis therapy and how to choose the right product for the patient.
Once again, a great tool for educating oneself about cannabis is www.veterinarycannabis.org or the Veterinary Cannabis Academy on Facebook.
Q: What would you recommend to a vet team member who's interested in discussing these products with a skeptical practice owner or manager in order to provide them as a retail option to clients? What tips would you give?
A: If a team member wanted to discuss cannabis as a modality within the hospital and is being met with resistance, I'd encourage them to ask why the practice owner or manager has reservations. If concerns are about the legal climate, that's fair. I suggest checking with their state board. I would also encourage them to read the revised Farm Act of 2018 and its specific language surrounding hemp and its derivatives. If they are concerned about the “evidence”, I would remind skeptics that there are over 23,000 scientific papers on cannabinoids in humans, lab animals and companion animals in 24 different species that have been published. I'd also encourage them to get CE on the topic from a qualified cannabis educator that has practical experience.
- Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al. Pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment in osteoarthritic dogs. Front Vet Sci Jul 23;2018:165.
- Levine CB, Bayle J, Biourge V, et al. Effects and synergy of feed ingredients on canine neoplastic cell proliferation. BMC Vet Res 2016;12:159.
Stephen Cital, RVT, RLAT, SRA, VCCS and VTS-LAM, is the Academic Liaison for the Society of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians, Executive Director at the Academy of Laboratory Veterinary Technicians and Nurses, Chief Operating Officer of the Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds and co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Academy.