HOW TO TALK TO YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT CANNABIS
In order to ensure that you are not rushed, and have enough time to ask your questions and have a meaningful discussion, it is important that the front office schedules the appropriate amount of time. You may want to consider requesting a dedicated appointment to discuss cannabis treatment. Alternatively, you may consider inquiring when you are in the office on another matter, if the doctor would be willing to have that discussion at a later date.
What you don’t want to do, is to wait until the end of your appointment, as the doctor has one hand on the doorknob to leave, and then ask.
Many people may still feel uncomfortable bringing up cannabis with their doctor, or their pet’s doctor, due to the stigma that has been attached to cannabis use for almost a century. But times are changing and support for the use of cannabis as a medicine is growing.
It is important to recognize that using cannabis treatments (including CBD) is a very important part of your pet’s medical history.
If you are using, or are considering adding cannabis to your pet’s treatment please be sure to tell your veterinarian about it. Share with them your reasons for using it, what product you are using, and what results you are seeing.
This allows your veterinarian the opportunity to provide guidance if they feel that a change in dose or product type may be better for your pet’s particular needs, as well as avoid potential drug interactions.
And of course, we want your veterinarian to know if what you are using is helping or not so that this information can be considered for other patients.
RECOGNIZE THEIR LIMITATIONS:
Most veterinarians grew up wanting to do nothing other than help animals, and that remains the goal of veterinarians in practice today.
Their education, however, did not provide them with a basis to understand how cannabis works or the potential conditions that it may prove helpful in treating.
For many veterinarians, the only exposure they have had to cannabis use in animals is seeing dogs that have over-consumed THC-laden treats and presenting with symptoms of toxicity requiring medical support. So it is no wonder that many veterinarians are still apprehensive about condoning its use.
Even for those veterinarians who understand the potential benefits of cannabis and are eager to begin treating patients, regulations restrict their ability to outright recommend or prescribe cannabis to their patients.
It is therefore crucial, that if you want your veterinarian to discuss cannabis as a potential therapy, that you bring it up.
While the job of your veterinarian includes advising you of the current legal status and lack of available approved products for animals, it is also their job to provide you with available information on how to reduce the risk of adverse events from occurring if you choose to use cannabis on your own.
BE RESOURCEFUL AND SHARE YOUR RESEARCH:
Being proactive in looking for information demonstrates your commitment to having a productive and informed discussion with your veterinarians.
If you have found information or published studies that support your argument for wanting to try cannabis for your pet, bring this information with you to your appointment.
Your veterinarian is a highly trained medical professional, and bases decisions on evidence and common sense, so be prepared to help them understand what you have learned and how you feel.
While we have very limited published research on using cannabis for dogs, cats, horses, etc., there is a large body of research available on cannabinoid medicine in general. Sites such as the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids, the International Association of Cannabis Medicines, are good places to start, or you can explore PubMed to find published research on a specific topic.
You can also direct your veterinarian to the CAVCM members’ Research Library.
It is important to discuss healthcare choices for your animals with your veterinarian, and these choices reflect a number of considerations, but ultimately it’s every pet family’s right to decide what treatment options are best for them.
As veterinarians cannot legally prescribe or recommend cannabis products, their role is to provide you with the information you need to keep your pet as healthy as possible.
Do your best to share your thoughts with your veterinarian.
If you feel that cannabis may be a treatment that can help your pet, but your veterinarian can’t help you, the CAVCM may be able to help you find a veterinarian who has more education in this area of medicine.