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European Pet Owners Find Cannabis Can Benefit Their Furry Friends, Too

October 4, 2016
As the world rediscovers the therapeutic properties of cannabis, more and more people are beginning to recognize that plant can also work wonders for their friends on four legs. Some companies in North America have already begun offering products designed for pets, and in Europe, vets, nurses, and pet owners across the continent are relaying remarkable accounts of cannabinoids effectively treating dogs, cats, and other beloved animals.

Meet Nicholas

cannabis-pets-Nicholas-Czech-Lukas-Hurt

Nicholas, a Laborador retriever from the Czech Republic, had been happy and healthy all his life. But when he was seven, his fur began falling out. The skin at the affected spots festered, and deep wounds appeared. “We were shocked by the fast onset and severity of this disease, and so was our local vet,” explained owner Martin Pešek. “He gave us antibiotics and did some blood tests, but the pills didn’t help at all, and the tests didn’t make us any wiser about the cause of the problem.”

After three weeks, wounds covered about a third of Nicholas’s body. He was weak, had a diminished appetite, and appeared to be in constant pain. Pešek and his wife Romana tried more pharmaceuticals and some ointments, but nothing worked. The local vet suggested putting him down. The owners got a second opinion. They Nicholas to the best animal clinic in the city of Brno, where he at last received a diagnosis. Nicholas, the vets said, suffered from autoimmune panniculitis, a very rare autoimmune disease. He began a special pharmaceutical treatment that carried a nearly $2,000 price tag.

Immediately after the first few doses, Nicholas began to act like his old self again. His wounds started to heal. But it didn’t last. “Unfortunately, two weeks after the wounds stopped getting better, he became [ill] and couldn’t hold the pills in anymore,” Romana Pešek said. “At this point we started to contemplate letting him go.”

Then someone introduced them to cannabis.

“We got lucky,” Romana said. “A friend was visiting the next day, and he told us about cannabis and especially about the so-called Rick Simpson Oil. We didn’t have any experience with this plant, but we didn’t have anything to lose either.”

“The golden rule is to start with little and gradually increase the amount.”
Michael Třebavý, patient advocate

The owners obtained a coconut cream infused with a cannabis extract with 80 percent THC and 5 percent CBD. They applied it directly onto Nicholas’ sores and diluted the same extract with olive oil for oral administration. “The wounds started to heal right before our eyes,” Martin said. “He slept a lot, but when he got up, he was finally hungry and started to put on weight. We gradually increased the doses of cannabinoids and lowered the doses of pharmaceuticals.” He was “completely cured,” the Pešeks said, in two months.

“I was really happy to see Nicholas recovering so fast,” said Dr. Dagmar Tarkošová, who supervised Nicholas’ treatment in the clinic, “and I am interested in finding more about the applications of cannabis to sick animals.”

He’s Not Alone

Michael Třebavý, a Czech patient advocate and legalization activist, says he’s witnessed firsthand dozens of dogs and cats deriving benefits from cannabis. “And it’s not only about treating various sicknesses, but also about prolonging life and the quality of it,” he said. “There are cases of 18-year-old poodles or 16-year-old German shepherds who are in great shape and happy.”

Related

Your Dog, Cat, or Other Animal Ate High-THC Cannabis: What to Do

Třebavý and others warned that pet owners need to start slow. Just like people need to be careful dosing edibles, it can be uncomfortable or even dangerous to give a pet too much THC. “The golden rule is to start with little and gradually increase the amount so that the body builds up tolerance and unwanted side-effects are avoided,” he advised.

The number of vets wanting to learn about cannabis as a possible treatment for animals is growing every day, Třebavý said. “In my town of only 15,000 people, I currently know two veterinarians who either recommend or directly give cannabis extracts to their patients.” But despite the benefits seen in animals like Nicholas, Třebavý acknowledged the practice “is still illegal in Czechia.”

Lukas Hurt's Bio Image

Lukas Hurt

Lukas Hurt is Leafly’s central and eastern Europe correspondent. Originally from a small town outside Prague, he studied history and English at university. After a stint as a bartender in Ireland, he returned to his home country in 2010, where he now works as a translator, journalist, and editor focusing on cannabis issues. He has advocated for patients and recreational consumers, publishing articles and translating books and scientific studies. He is one of the main contributors to the highly popular Czech cannabis magazine Legalizace.

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  • Met Fraser

    I know a cat with pretty bad epilepsy. He’s on phenobarbital, diazepam, and I forget what else, but his owner is trying out cannabis oil on him to see if it helps. Even with the pharmaceuticals he still gets bad seizures, so I really, really hope it helps him.

    • Lukas Hurysek

      hopefully it will

      • Met Fraser

        Update, he’s doing great, he’s halved his seizure medication dosages and even his tics have improved (he used to compulsively lick and nibble everything he could reach). I saw him last night and he looked much better than the last time I’d seen him. Thank you for your support!

  • Open Minds

    All animals, except insects, have an Endocannabinoid System which is why cannabis also works as a medicine for them.

    • Lukas Hurysek

      I think insects have it too. Even hydras have it.

      • Open Minds

        Hi Lukas – insects don’t have an ECS. Just google “insects endocannabinoid system” to find out more.

  • Hyde

    We take the fan leaves and trim that doesn’t have any crystals on it from our harvest and make a big batch of tea with it. We jar and freeze most of it. When we pull a jar out we dilute it and just put a little on our dogs dry food. DEFINITELY START SLOW!!! However, once she got used to it, we had to start putting it on her food every time or she wouldn’t eat it. She’s eleven years old, she acts years younger now. Her joints aren’t as stiff, her back doesn’t hurt, she’s a lot more active, and her coat is a lot nicer. She loves her medicine and it helps her a lot. She doesn’t like it in smoke form but she gets head tremors, then a puff of Charlottes Web or Harlequin or another high CBD strain puts a stop to them immediately

  • This is a very informative post.
    http://www.bodyallergyclinic.com/my-cat-keeps-sneezing-causes-treatment/
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/afc08e032da47bc6b440dcb6399d90df2d4c99913894cf24d88b8bf181008c20.jpg
    Your cat’s health lies in your hands. Any ill-health sign such as regular sneezing should worry you.

    If you notice that one sneeze follows another and the symptoms do not go away, then it is a serious condition which needs your attention.

    Viral, fungal and bacterial infections are the most common cause of sneezing in cats.

    You should identify the primary cause of sneezing and follow the treatment mechanisms discussed in the article we assure you that the results will be overwhelming.

    Follow this link for the full details: https://goo.gl/mZmY0M

    Source: http://www.bodyallergyclinic.com/

  • Natalie Hagan

    I have an anemic 10 month old kitten, Max, that has either cancer or fungal disease in his nasal cavity. He is also very small, only 3.5 lbs. The hospital was unable to get a biopsy the first time through a small hole that the disease has eaten into his bone, and if they went in again, Max could bleed out and need a transfusion. I am about to put him on fluconisol, the go to for fungal disease. I am exploring cannabis for pets to see which treatment would help him the most. Any insight you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. – Natalie