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Pot for pets: Legalization of marijuana will give veterinarians a new tool to treat animals

'You are going to see progression towards products coming into the market:' Dr. Ian Sandler
20180915 vet tech
Dr. Ian Sandler speaks at the ve+ summit Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at the Delta Hotel. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

GUELPH - Pot. It's not just for humans.

The new Canadian rules on marijuana scheduled to take effect odn Oct. 17 also opens many doors in Canada for marijuana as a treatment tool for veterinarians.

Everything from pain relief and inflammation to reducing loud noise anxiety can be treated in dogs and cats via marijuana and its derivatives.

That was the word from Dr. Ian Sandler Saturday at the ve+ summit, a one-day conference examining some of veterinary medicine's newest technologies held at the Delta Inn and hosted by online veterinary advice provider Healthy Pets.

Sandler said the use for pets is "very similar" to what it is for humans and that pet owners are demanding new treatment options for their pets.

"There's a lot of data and even more coming," he told a room of veterinarians, vet technicians and vet students. "Vets need legal pathways supported by clinical research."

Sandler, a graduate of the University of Gueph's Ontario Veterinary College, is CEO of Grey Wolf Animal Health, a Toronto-based company that researches and creates animal health marijuana products.

He said marijuana is a potential "therapeutic tool. A medication in our tool chest."

Sandler said there have been studies done on emergency visits for pets that have been using marijuana products in the United States, where pot for pets is common in many states.

"Is this an adverse affect (from the pot product) or are these dogs just really, really high," Sandler said.

Hosted by Emma Harris, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Healthy Pets, the ve+ summit will examine some of veterinary medicine’s newest technologies, equipping professionals with insights they need to educate consumers on changing practices, and the tools they need to thrive in an industry that is rapidly evolving.

The conference will explore topics including telemedicine, wearable technology, 3D imaging artificial intelligence and more. Keynote topics include a guide to veterinary cannabis in Canada and the future of veterinary medicine with artificial intelligence.

Sandler said one of the problems with the new legislation is that it is geared to humans and pet uses haven't really been addressed.

He said the College of Veterinarians of Ontario has also been hesitant to embrace the use.

"There is not a lot of awareness at the college level at this point," he said.

Sandler said veterinarians need to be patient.

"You are going to see progression towards products coming into the market," he said, but added that more research is needed and both professionals and the public need to educate themselves and encourage changes to open that door for marijuana products to become part of the vet's tool kit.



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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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