Pot for pets? What happened when terminally-ill Muttley took cannabis oil
In September last year, Muttley’s human parents Tim* and Tina* got the worst news possible. Their beloved 12 year-old American staffordshire terrier cross was dying.
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He’d been diagnosed with cancer earlier that year, and after rounds of chemo and five surgeries, the vet said there was nothing more they could do for him.
“He was extremely lethargic. He’d sleep 20, 22 hours a day and wanted to be left alone, didn’t want to go outside. Basically, getting towards the point of he was going to die,” Tim told Hack.
“In October we said goodbye to him. We were going away and we didn’t think he’d survive the week,” Tina said. “The only other option would have been putting him down, because he didn’t have any quality of life.”
Chemo was having a terrible effect on Muttley.
“He got really sick, he lost ten kilos and started urinating blood and the vet said that’s pretty much it. He probably has weeks to live, if he’s lucky,” Tim said.
To ease Muttley’s discomfort, the vet suggested Tim and Tina try something a little bit controversial – medicinal cannabis oil.
The couple was sceptical at first.
I thought I’d heard it all, until I’d heard that.”
“But then I thought, if he can’t take traditional medicine, if it makes him feel sick – he was vomiting and he would do this really sad thing where he would bury his nose in his paws and rub his head in the grass,” Tina said.
“You could tell he was really in pain and that was a sign that he was nauseous. So I thought, what do we have to lose? We might as well try it.”
They got him some low-dose cannabis oil. and noticed a change within days.
“He’s put ten kilos back on, he’s pain-free, he’s hyperactive, he’s energetic, he’s loving life, and he has a huge appetite,” Tim said.
In some ways, Muttley’s turned into a typical stoner.
I guess he gets the dog munchies.”
“He does tend to get the munchies, even after his second dinner. He follows me to the fridge and he absolutely loves ice-cream,” Tim said.
“For some reason, this is a new taste he’s developed after we’ve given him the hemp oil. He absolutely devours an entire bowl of ice-cream.”
“After taking medicinal marijuana, he wants to be around everybody, he wants to play, and sometimes at midnight he gets his toys and he wants to play with his toys even though everybody else wants to go to bed,” Tim laughed.
‘For use in humans only’
The thing is, no cannabis products have been approved for use in animals. In fact, the Therapeutic Goods Administration – the regulatory body responsible for giving medicines for humans a tick or a flick – actively warns against cannabis use in pets.
“Some substances that are relatively benign in humans can be highly toxic to dogs and/or cats,” a spokeswoman for the TGA told Hack.
“Cannabis cultivated and manufactured into medicinal cannabis products is for use in humans only. It should not be provided to pets.”
Pet owners may be tempted to provide black market medicinal cannabis products to pets. This should never be done.”
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But veterinarians have the discretion to prescribe human medicines to pets, if they think it’ll help, and certain very-low dose hemp oils, like the ones you may see at market stalls, can legally be sold in Australia.
“The reason they’re legal is that they have such a low concentration to be legal so they can’t be abused. They may well be safe, but we also don’t know that they’re effective,” practicing vet and member of the Australian Veterinary Association, Phil Brain, said.
He cautioned pet owners against seeing medicinal cannabis as the silver bullet for their sick pets.
“There are many more conventional products that can be used to improve well-being and appetite,” he told Hack.
“The AVA remains open to the possibility of these drugs, we welcome further research. It’s probably just at this time, the unquestioning acceptance of the products is premature.”
Phil said he’s much more likely to see pets get sick from accidentally accessing their owner’s stash.
“They come in with quite profound signs of toxicity, ranging from being spaced out, but often including seizuring, they’re wobbly and they’re quite neurologically affected.
In some cases that toxicity can be fatal.”
He says the same kind of medicinal cannabis trials that have been conducted on humans should be done on animals.
“We keep an open mind I suppose, but veterinary science is a science and accordingly the AVA are advocates for only using products that have been thoroughly tested,” Phil said.
Aussie company taking Europe by storm
Could we see approved cannabis-based product for pets on the Australian market soon?
It’s not a medication, but Australian-listed company, Creso Pharma, has registered a hemp-based product that you can feed your pets to help them with chronic stress and ageing. That’s been registered through the European Union’s regulatory body, called the European Feed Material Registry.
“The European regulations are a bit more open, so we’re starting in Europe,” David Russell from Creso Pharma told Hack.
Next step: getting the product into Australia on a trial basis.
“That’s probably the first path for us, to get some product into the country through a TGA approval for research purposes so they can have some experience with it,” David said.
Cannabis is a good option [for pets], but we need to gather some local evidence.”
David admitted Australia had been slow off the mark when it comes to utilising medicinal cannabis, but he said it’s “for the right reasons”.
“There are about 5 million dogs – that’s about 40 per cent of households in Australia – and they’re part of the family. They’re a very important part of people’s lives, and we want to make sure we give them something safe,” he said.
The product will launch in Europe later this year, and there’s still a question mark over when we could see it in Australia.
A last resort
Tim and Tina didn’t regret their decision for a second.
Muttley is a much-loved member of the family, and his human parents would do anything to make his last days bearable.
You would do that for anyone, you’d try and make them comfortable.”
“I mean, his prognosis is terminal and all it’s done is make him comfortable for however long he’s got to live,” Tina said.
“I just think, give it a go if there’s no other option.”
Phil’s approach was a bit more cautious.
“I would say to those pet owners to see the veterinarian and have a long chat about conventional medication, discuss using alternative medication as an option.”
Dying dog saved with cannabis oil after vet tells owner ‘prepare yourself for the worst’
Milo has been given a new lease of life after a family friend suggested the treatment when he was taken seriously ill with pancreatitis.
- 10:17, 17 OCT 2019
A pet dog days from possible death has become the first to have its life saved – with cannabis oil .
Beloved pooch Milo down had been given just days to live after he was diagnosed with pancreatitis leaving him in crippling pain.
Owner Vicky Horton was told to prepare for the worst as conventional treatment was not working.
But after a friend suggested giving him some drops of CBD oil his prognosis turned around – within just 48 hours.
Milo is still on the CBD oil and recently celebrated his 15th birthday and able to enjoy his twilight years.
Vicky, 31, of Torquay, Devon, who has had Milo since she was 16, said: “Milo was taken seriously ill on the Monday with pancreatitis.
“It is a very serious condition in dogs, especially older dogs. He spent two nights at the vet on a drip, and we were told to prepare ourselves for the worst.
“Milo didn’t cope well at the vet and kept pulling his drip out. He was also very confused and unsettled due to the drugs he was on, so they decided to discharge him on Thursday evening as they thought he would be better off at home.
“When we collected Milo I’m sure he didn’t even recognise us. He was weeing himself constantly, his back legs had given way, he was disorientated and he hadn’t eaten since Sunday.
“The vet said again on discharge that we should prepare ourselves for the worst.
“We came home and slept in the lounge with Milo, feeding him water through a syringe and trying to tempt him with food, but he wasn’t interested.
“Trying to get the painkillers down him was a battle and the Tramadol made him foam at the mouth as it tasted so horrible.
“We visited the vet on Friday to top up Milo’s injection painkillers and antibiotic, and visited again on Saturday to do the same.
“By the Saturday we had nursed Milo non-stop for 48 hours and he hadn’t improved.
“He had lost 4kg in weight and we believed we were being cruel by keeping him alive.
“That evening we had decided we couldn’t put him through any more suffering as he wasn’t improving, so would need to think about making that heartbreaking decision.”
It was then Vicky’s husband remembered some friends used CBD oil to treat their dogs and was recommended to go to the CBD Lab.
Around 6pm that evening they gave Milo eight drops of CBD oil.
Within three hours he had his first proper wee in three days. By 11pm he was asleep and resting for the first time in four days.
By 6am the following morning he was eating a plate of chicken, which was the first food he had eaten for six days.
Vicky said: “As the hours passed by he improved; he was eating, drinking and weeing more. We gave him five drops of oil every six hours and he has shown no sign of pain since.
“Finally we stopped all prescribed painkillers as they were making Milo so confused and distressed. It only took 48 hours to turn the whole situation around.
“If you look at Milo today running around the block, scoffing plates of chicken and wagging his tail it’s really surreal to think that we almost made a decision to end his life.
“It’s completely unbelievable how a few drops of oil can make such a difference to an animal’s life.”
Up until September last year, CBD shops were able to supply pet owners with products to make their pets lives a little easier.
However, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate then issued a statement saying that veterinary products containing (CBD) are veterinary medicines and should be regulated which has halted the trade.
Jess Dale, co-owner of the CBD Lab, said: “How fortunate that the story has a happy ending, but with results like this, why has the Veterinary Medicines Directorate decided to take this course of action?
“There is no evidence that CBD Oil is harmful, yet it is now an offence to administer ‘unauthorised product containing CBD without a veterinary prescription’ under Regulation 8 of the VMR.
“As they themselves state it has medical benefits so why withhold this from general use? Pet CBD and human consumption CBD contain exactly the same ingredients.”