Can Medical Marijuana be Used for Dogs and Cats?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

He’s not exactly prescribing bong hits for pets, but a California veterinarian may be the first in the country to formally offer consultations on how to medicate sick pets using marijuana.


Dr. Douglas Kramer, otherwise known as the Vet Guru, cannot legally prescribe the federally classified Schedule 1 controlled substance, although California has made possession of medical marijuana legal. The feds still consider it illegal, as the war over its medical uses is fought in local, state and national venues.


But Kramer wants to see veterinarians take the lead in using marijuana to treat pets suffering painful and terminal illnesses, rather than rely on the corporate world or well-meaning, but misguided individuals.


Kramer says he does not use marijuana himself, recreationally or medically, but found that when he treated his own dog, who suffered from cancer, with a homemade tincture of cannabis the animal’s quality of life improved dramatically. It inspired the Los Angeles vet to transform his traditional practice into one specializing in palliative and hospice care.


Because dogs aren’t very good at inhaling smoke, the doctor primarily recommends precise applications of pot via a glycerin tincture. But he also says marijuana can be made into butter or oil and used to cook or bake a range of foods, including dog biscuits.


He strongly discourages people from blowing smoke in their pet’s face to get them high, which he calls “animal abuse.” 


Kramer says the drug is as effective for cats as dogs, especially as an appetite stimulant. He also says studies indicate that monkeys, pigs, chickens and rats have the same biological receptors as humans and may benefit from marijuana, too. But Kramer says that not enough is known about marijuana pet use and he advocates for the need to conduct clinical trials.


Medical marijuana prescriptions from California veterinarians won’t be available anytime soon. Veterinarian journals don’t discuss the drug, according to Mother Jones, and the magazine had a hard time even finding veterinarians to discuss the issue. Part of the problem may be the danger of overdose, which rarely happens with humans but is possible with other mammals. Symptoms of OD include lethargy, vomiting, seizures and even coma.


But anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that mostly happens when a pet steals into the owner’s private stash and wolfs it all down. And, inarguably, nobody wants to see that happen.

-Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Do You Think Medical Marijuana Should be Legalized for Dogs? (by Julia Szabo, Dogster)

The Vet Who Wants to Legalize Medical Marijuana for Dogs (by Harry Cheade, Vice)

Yes, People Are Giving Their Pets Medical Marijuana (by Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones)

Pot for Pets? Vet Offers Unorthodox Marijuana Treatment for Pups in Pain (by Beth Stebner, New York Daily News)

Veterinarian Seeks to Have Clinical Trial Established on Medical Marijuana for Pets (by Lorrie Shaw,

Medical Marijuana for Man’s Best Friend: Seattle Company Develops ‘Pot Patch” for Dogs (by Jennifer Madison, Daily Mail)

Marijuana Farmers’ Market Draws a Crowd Despite Federal Crackdowns (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


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