An Australian start-up is promoting a novel treatment – medical cannabis for pets.
Medical cannabis may have a strong calming effect on pets, dull chronic pain, and significantly improve their vibrancy and quality of life, according to Australian medical cannabis company Creso Pharma.
One vet is already using medicated cannabis to treat dogs, and claims it has remarkable effects.
On Wednesday Creso announced it had received European Union health registration for two cannabidiol-based products – one for horses, the other for smaller animals such as cats or dogs.
The company claims the products can be used to treat "behavioural-based disorders such as anxiety and noise phobias, chronic pain, arthritis, and diabetes", based on anecdotal evidence and pre-clinical studies on rats.
The products will contain cannabidiol, a chemical found within cannabis that does not have any psychoactive effects.
Cannabidiol has been found to have a range of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.
Vet Edward Bassingthwaighte said he had been using medical cannabis to treat pooches for some time.
"I've had several animals in my care where the owners have elected to use marijuana products. I've seen significant improvements on arthritis, and infirmities of age.
"I've had several respond very strongly to cannabis extract – great improvements on their life-force, so they are in less pain.
"They can make dogs a bit sleepy if you give them a high dose, but they are not psychoactive."
Bassingthwaighte said he legally imported products with small traces of cannabidiol for use on animals.
Products with a maximum of 2 per cent Cannabidiol are legally approved for use on animals in Australia so long as they are prescribed by a vet. Creso's products are expected to contain significantly higher doses.
"There's not a lot of therapeutic alternatives for vets and pet owners, and many of the ones available are human-based medicines that have been poorly adapted for animals," Creso's CEO and co-founder Dr Miri Halperin Wernli said.
"Our unique Cannabidiol based nutraceutical products are developed specifically for companion animals, and are an alternative therapeutic option to a number of common medical conditions among pets that often remain poorly treated."
Dr Melanie Latter, veterinary affairs manager at the Australian Veterinary Association, warned cannabis can be toxic to animals if eaten raw.
"There are a growing number of anecdotal reports of the benefits of cannabinoids in animals, and further research may be warranted into development of these for therapeutic purposes," she said.
"We do know though that Cannabis can be toxic and in some cases, fatal for dogs, so as with any new drug, there should be controlled clinical trials to establish any definite therapeutic benefits and safe dose rates before its use can be recommended."
The registration paves the way for Creso to sell the products globally, although they are not yet available in Australia. The company says it is searching for a commercial partner to help import the drug here.
A spokeswoman for the company said it was unsure, given how legislation in Australia had been drafted, whether the products would be immediately legal in Australia, but hoped to work with regulators to have the drugs registered for use by vets.
- Brisbane Times