Forums » Internal Medicine - Small Animal

Integrative Veterinary Medicine and Cannabinoids

  • September 26, 2016 11:41 AM EDT

    A recent Specialty Update and Roundtable discussion focused on the topic of cannabinoids (plant-based chemicals) - specifically Hemp and Plant Cannabinoids as Potential Clinical Interventions - in companion animals.

    The use and advocacy of cannabis-based therapies has been a hot topic in the world of human medicine for some time. We frequently hear reports of proposed legislation to legalize cannabis-based products for medicinal and/or recreational use. With the increase in interest and awareness about the medicinal applications of cannabis, pet owners have shown a similar interest in its application for disease management in companion animals.

    With the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in many states of the U.S. in recent years, veterinarians have also seen an increase in toxic exosures in companion animals. Toxicity is due to exposure to the pyschoactive constituent in marijuana - THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Not all cannabis is alike, however. The Cannabis sativa plant has two main cultivars or strains - marijuana and hemp. In our Specialty Update we discuss their differences and the potential applications for hemp-based products in the management of diseases or conditions in veterinary patients.

    Read More about Cannabinoids



    In a recent survey, pet owners demonstrated a very strong desire for a "natural" option for managing their pet's health, and veterinarians are frequently asked about alternative therapies for disease management. Clinicians who do not identify as "integrative" practitioners or who lack familiarity with complementary and alternative therapies may be unprepared to offer guidance or educate their clients on currently available options. Furthermore, integrative therapies (e.g. laser, acupuncture, nutraceuticals, phytomedicine, etc.) have not commonly been included in veterinary curricula - in part, due to a paucity of evidence-based analysis of these modalities.

    An article published in March 2016 provided consensus guidelines for an integrative veterinary medicine curriculum within veterinary colleges. Authors included clinicians from both academia and private veterinary specialty practice. These guidelines were published in an effort to support the training of future veterinarians on integrative, complementary, or alternative therapies. The guidelines call for courses to include the teaching of priniciples, theories, and an evidence-based, unbiased presentation of current knowledge regarding such techniques - that either support or refute their consideration. The techniques include:

    • Acupuncture
    • Manual therapies (massage therapy, myofascial principles)
    • Botanical medicine (herbal)
    • Integrative nutrition
    • Physical rehabilitation (laser, shockwave, ultrasound, hyperbaric oxygen, others)

    Consumer demand is a wonderful driver of growth and change in the veterinary profession. The availability of complementary and integrative care modalities for use in veterinary patients has grown substantially in the last decades. Some modalities have not been widely studied or lack strong evidence to support their use. However, owners' perceptions of their benefit and their preference for "natural" options and/or holisitic care options are incontrovertible.  We look forward to continuing to provide educational resources regarding various complementary care modalities and to present the evidence (or lack thereof) to our Members.

    Related topics:

    1. An Update on the Science Behind CBD (Cannabidiol) Use for Pets

    2. Lavender Essential Oil: Applications and the Evidence for its Effect on Animal Behavior
    3. Cranberries in the Management of Urinary Tract Infections

    4. Probiotics

    5. Antioxidants and Eye Health


    • 148 posts
    October 16, 2016 8:45 PM EDT

    In the recent discussion on Cannabinoids I presented information regarding several commercially available products.  One of the companies mentioned was Therabis, and I indicated that CBD content in their products was not discernable on their website or product labeling.

    I just came across a piece of literature that the company distributed at their exhibit at a recent veterinary conference. In that print material they indicate the CBD content (in milligrams) for each of their 3 products.  I'm still not sure why the label and website fail to disclose that, but I did want to acknowledge that there is some indication by the company of CBD content in their Therabis products.