2 Sep 2015

My Canine Went to Cannabis, Thank Goodness!

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IMG_1348This is Sweet Georgia Brown. During the week of her 13th birthday she had a major stroke. She was unable to focus her eyes, unable hold food in her mouth, to walk or even stand without help. She was very confused and, as would be expected, very anxious and confused. We were all scared.

Her vet recommended medical marijuana as an option. I began a daily routine of homemade whole plant canna-butter each evening adjusting for her size. She liked the flavor and liked it even better with a bit of peanut butter. Within hours her involuntary eye tracking ceased. Within days her balance was much improved. Within two weeks, coupled with homegrown physical therapy and massage, she was using stairs and even hiking beginner trails with us.

Her vet check up went very well. Her doctor was excited to see her progress but not entirely surprised. “I have many of my patients that use medical marijuana. It has shown some great results”, he stated. As much as I would like to give him credit, her doctor preferred me to not use his name. Because this is still a gray area for veterinarians, some worry that they could jeopardize their licenses by recommending marijuana to their patients. He cannot offer people cannabis products and pet owners must source their own medical marijuana and figure out the appropriate dose.

Luckily, we knew that Georgia responds well to cannabis and know her dosing because we have also used it on occasion to treat her leg and joint pain and stiffness. Other pet owners may not be as familiar or know where to begin sourcing this type of medicine for their pets. Inevitably when I mention this to people, most are surprised and a few will ask how well she can roll a joint. It’s foreign territory to us, but before the 1930’s, many veterinary medicines included extracts of cannabis as an active ingredient. The same was true for human pharmacopoeia options.

The UK Stroke Forum, examined a number of studies that have been conducted on the effect of cannabis on stroke victims. Researchers from the University of Nottingham examined 94 studies evaluating the effects of cannabinoids, the active chemical compounds in cannabis, on 1,022 male rats, mice or monkeys and found that cannabis “shows promise as a neuroprotective treatment for stroke”. It seems to reduce swelling associated with stroke that causes further brain injury of stroke victims. A local neurologist gave me the same reassuring advice, “You were right to treat her that way. It reduces the swelling on the brain. We know this. If we could administer cannabis to every NFL player who has just had a concussion, we could reduce so much harm.”

Georgia is no pro football player but she is a resilient 13 year old mutt who has rebounded tremendously thanks to cannabis. I am a true believer now and want others to know. I am in the process of working with veterinary researchers and local legislators to talk about how we can move the bar for education and research at a minimum. More people need to be aware of this affordable and medicinal option for their furry best friends. It is no cure all, but should be considered when appropriate and available as a treatment option, all under the care of an informed verterinarian.

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