Most veterinarians consider themselves fairly knowledgable about the therapeutic use of marijuana in dogs and feel the plant should be rescheduled under federal law, according to a recent survey.
That said, respondents say their state veterinary associations don’t provide sufficient guidance on the subject—including in states where cannabis is legal—and that more research on the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in dogs is needed.
More than 2,100 certified veterinarians who are currently practicing participated in the anonymous online survey, the results of which were published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Studies.
While most veterinarians reported feeling knowledgable about cannabis, just under half said they felt comfortable discussing the topic with clients. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, recent graduates were less likely than their peers to feel comfortable talking about marijuana with dog owners.
Client inquires about cannabis were fairly common, with only 8 percent reporting that they’d never been asked about CBD products. But veterinarians seem generally disinclined to actually recommend these products. Sixty-six percent said they’d never recommended CBD for dogs, while 12 percent said they “sometimes” recommend them and just five percent said they “frequently” do.
The reasons behind the reluctance to recommend CBD ranges from the belief that additional research is necessary (65 percent) to concerns about the legal status of cannabis (53 percent).
The most common conditions for which CBD was either discussed or recommended were pain management, anxiety, seizures and storm or fireworks phobias, according to the survey.
Respondents generally said that they had not received sufficient guidance on the use of marijuana in animals from either veterinary state organizations or state veterinary boards, though veterinarians practicing in states where cannabis is legal were somewhat more likely to report that they had received enough guidance.
Interestingly, 82 percent of respondents said they felt CBD should not remain as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law and 70 percent said the same about marijuana overall.
“Certainly, current laws and political forces make it challenging for veterinarians to gain the information they need to feel confident discussing CBD with their clients and offering sound advice, yet it is imperative for the veterinary field to rise to this challenge,” the study authors wrote. “Given the positive feelings expressed by veterinarians in this study, it is suggested that all those affected by both the potential benefits as well as the risks, work together for legislative change that would allow for the expansion of knowledge needed to best capitalize on this potential medical tool for companion animals.”
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