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Essex veterinarians treating pet pain with cannabis

Dr. Janice Huntingford has prescribed cannabis oil to some pets dealing with a range of heatlh issues, such as chronic pain, arthritis, seizures and cancer patients.
Dr. Janice Huntingford is a veterinarian and a certified pain practitioner working at Essex Animal Hospital. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

Cats and dogs suffering from severe pain or disease are finding relief from cannabis treatment given to them from their veterinarian.

Dr. Janice Huntingford has been giving cannabis oil to some pets dealing with issues like chronic pain, arthritis, seizures and cancer.

The veterinarian at the Essex Animal Hospital is also a certified pain practitioner. She suggests her patients use cannabis oil made from hemp because it does not contain THC, which can be toxic to animals.

Huntingford said it can reduce pain, decrease seizures and can shrink tumours in pets with cancer.

"You would like to get a product that...has very little THC because dogs and cats are so susceptible to THC," Huntingford said.

Dogs and cats have extreme sensitivity to true marijuana, which is why she uses CBD (cannabidiol) for pain management.

"Cats are very sensitive to the CBD, so you have to dose them differently than dogs," she said. "There's not a lot of pain meds that we can use for cats, because they're sensitive to so many things. This one thing that we can use."

Three months ago Huntingford travelled to the U.S. to take part in a short pain course at the University of California, San Diego campus. She said one afternoon was devoted to the use of cannabis in dogs, including the use of medical marijuana and other products.

"Pain management is a huge amount of what I do," Huntingford said.

​Pet owners were travelling to another veterinarian in the U.S. to get the hemp oil, because Huntingford was not able to find a product in Canada. Then she found products in Vancouver, which should be available next week.

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