In this week’s episode of Dog Cancer Answers, host James Jacobson spends some time with Dr. Trina Hazzah, integrative oncologist and co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Society. She and three of her colleagues have just had a new paper published. “Cannabis in Veterinary Medicine: A Critical Review,” is in the journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA).
The Goal: Educate Veterinarians About Cannabis and CBD
In the interview, Dr. Hazzah explains why exactly she and her colleagues, Casara Andre, Gary Richter, and Stephanie McGrath wrote the paper.
In essence? Because it is so very much needed.
There are literally thousands of papers about cannabis and its constituents. No veterinarian working in general practice could possibly have the time to read all of them.
There are hundreds of constituent compounds in cannabis. The most famous are THC and CBD, but there are so many more, and each has a specific action.
And, of course, cannabis is still banned at the federal level, leaving its legality to the states to decide. Between worrying about losing their veterinary license and/or their DEA license to operate a pharmacy, many veterinarians feel the risk of including cannabis in their treatment recommendations is too high.
All of these factors mean that it is not easy for a general practice veterinarian to advise their clients about CBD and cannabis.
The Risk: Taking Advice from Manufacturers, Not Veterinarians
Just because veterinarians can’t or won’t discuss cannabis and CBD products with their clients doesn’t mean clients aren’t buying and using them with their dogs.
And that poses a risk. For one thing, any time you have a plant with so many different compounds … and so many possible systems it is affecting … you run the risk of giving it improperly.
For example: it can be an immune suppressor. Did you know that?
So cannabis might be helpful in certain illnesses … but not in others.
It’s also a pretty great anti-inflammatory (why it’s so often used for pain). Fabulous, right? But pair it with other anti-inflammatories without thinking it through, and your dog could start having digestive trouble.
My dog Kanga seems to bounce a little more when I add a couple mg of CBD oil to her food in the morning … but she almost always vomits later in the day. It’s not worth it, for her. The added pain relief does not outweigh the daily vomiting episode.
Dose also matters — a lot. Dogs have more of the receptors for THC than we do … so a little THC goes a lot farther with them. In other words, they get high easily and at lower doses than we do.
There’s plenty of advice about using cannabis and CBD products online. Some of it is useful — informed by veterinary perspectives or deep experience.
Some of it is just … not. One story about a product “curing” cancer does not mean that product cures cancer. It really doesn’t. 🙁
Manufacturers may know their products really well, but remember — unless a veterinarian is specifically reviewing your dog’s case, you’re not getting medical advice.
The Paper on Cannabis Written By Veterinarians, for Veterinarians
Dr. Hazzah and her colleagues wrote the paper on cannabis to give veterinarians a good roadmap to the plant. I’ve read it, and it’s not an “easy read” for the layperson. It’s definitely written as a scientific article aimed at the scientific community.
Readers find out about:
- The structure and function of the endocannabinoid system (which is NOT covered in veterinary school)
- The pharmacologic effects of the active compounds found in cannabis
- The potential uses for cannabis in the veterinary field
- The toxicities of cannabis to watch out for
The paper is a review of the current literature on cannabis. It also addresses the very real issues of concern around legal status.
It’s basically as close to a veterinary “cannabis starter’s guide” as we have right now.
What About an Article for Dog Parents?
Dr. Hazzah doesn’t think most listeners to the podcast will find her new paper useful. It’s not written for the lay person. And even those with a medical background won’t get all of it, she points out. The endocannabinoid system isn’t even taught in veterinary schools at this point. (Because why would you teach about something no one can legally prescribe at the federal level?)
Instead, she recommends reading an article she wrote for Great Pet Health called Hemp Oil for Pets: Everything You Need to Know.
You should also listen to her first episode of Dog Cancer Answers:
And also to her colleague Gary Richter’s episode:
Here’s the video version of today’s podcast. You can also read the transcript on the episode page on the Dog Cancer Answers website.
Feel free to share this article or the podcast itself with your veterinarian and their staff.
As always, don’t forget to rate and review Dog Cancer Answers in Apple Podcast. It really does help the show!
This book is a must-read, whether your dog has cancer or not. Cancer is the #1 killer of dogs. One out of three dogs get cancer, and 1 out of 2 dogs over the age of ten do. If you have a dog, you are going to face it eventually. Be prepared!
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Further Reading & References:
Hazzah, T., Andre, C., Richter, G., McGrath, S. Cannabis-in-Veterinary-Medicine-A-Critical-Review-Vol-61_LR-3.pdf (ahvma.org)
The article Dr. Hazzah wrote for laypeople can be found in Great Pet Care: https://www.greatpetcare.com/wellness/pet-cbd/
Dr. Hazzah belongs to the California Veterinary Medical Association in addition to these other societies:
Her website is https://drtrinahazzah.com/
Molly Jacobson is a writer and also the editor of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, published by Maui Media. A lifelong dog lover and self-professed dog health nerd, she is all too familiar with dog cancer. She has been supporting readers of this blog since the beginning. Molly earned a BA from Tufts University, and after a career in bookselling and book publishing attended The Swedish Institute to become a licensed massage therapist in New York State, licensed by the medical board. Her fascination with health is both personal and global, and she is most proud of how this site and the associated publications have revolutionized not only our approach to dog health, but our own health.