Cannabis Use in Veterinary Practice

Hi everyone, I hope this finds you all hale and hearty? Those of you who know me know that I don’t shy away from controversial subjects, although I try to stay diplomatic and see both sides of a debate.

So brace yourselves, because I’m about to write about a current controversial topic: Cannabis use in Veterinary practice. Granted, it is a little off-piste as far as blog topics go, but some of our clients here at SLVC have raised the subject.

Before I go any further, I’m just going to point out that currently there is very little research-based evidence in ANIMALS of Cannabis products efficacy. All the studies have been conducted on humans, especially the Epilepsy trials, which seem to be the main focus of your queries too; having said that, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence worldwide with people having appeared to treat their pets’ ailments in a positive way.

Hopefully we will start to see more and more scientific-condition based studies done in the near future. It’s precisely because this sphere of Veterinary medicine is still very much in its infancy that I urge caution; although there are reports of pets’ health being improved, it’s way too soon to know just HOW effective Cannabidiol (CBD) is, and whether it’s effective 100% of the time.

Any drug needs to be weighed up as to whether the benefits it offers are greater than any side-effects it causes. CBD may cause drowsiness, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite, so if you are considering medicating your pet, please come and discuss it either with myself or another member of the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team.


Medical grade Cannabis has been modified so that it contains Cannabidiol (CBD) rather than Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); THC is the chemical in Cannabis that gives you the “high” and/or hallucinations, not CBD. Just as with humans, many pet owners are using Cannabidiol to treat their pets’ epilepsy, although there have been stories about it being used for animals with Osteoarthritis and helping in the treatment of Autoimmune diseases too.

Some pet owners (none here at SLVC, thankfully) have allegedly purchased Cannabidiol as a food/nutritional supplement and used it without any Veterinary advice or supervision. Now, whilst I obviously can’t stop you from doing this, myself and the whole SLVC team would much prefer that you contact us so that we can keep your pet safe and healthy.

These CBD products that have been manufactured as food supplements are also subject to different regulatory standards than medicines. This means that they may not have the potency, and therefore the effectiveness, of medicinal-grade products.


You may not be aware of this, but it is actually illegal to buy CBD products and administer them to your pet, unless you have a prescription form a vet. Once you have a veterinary prescription, you are able to legally purchase the licensed, authorised human CBD products – currently there are NO VETERINARY CBD products on the market (December 2018).

Many people resort to buying Cannabis products over the internet; because it is anonymous it seems “less illegal”, or so people seem to think. However, when this mode of purchase is used, you have no real idea of the quality and/or chemical content of what you’ve purchased. Medically licensed products are top quality, refined, tested, and the CBD or THC content is clearly marked.

Unscrupulous traders on the internet will have no qualms about bulking their product with other components – potentially leading to all sorts of side-effects in your pet.

Clearly, this is an area that desperately needs more research doing in to it, and more conversations need to be had. Ultimately though, we all (researchers, Veterinarians, and pet owners) have a common goal: to keep animals happy and healthy.

If you need any help, advice, or information regarding this topic, then please don’t hesitate to contact any of the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team.

Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂