Using Cannabis for Treating Dogs with Cancer: Duke’s Story

RxLeaf October 17, 2017 0 comments

My dog, Duke, had cancer. He is an example of what cannabis can do for dogs with cancer.

Editor’s Note: Any testimonials or endorsements found on this site are for anecdotal purposes only. The information in Rxleaf testimonials is not intended as direct medical advice, nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified healthcare professionals who are intimately knowledgeable about your individual medical needs.

First I started using cannabis for myself, for my migraines. All of the prescriptions the doctors gave me caused stomach issues AND as soon as the meds were out of my system, it would trigger more migraines. Cannabis has helped me be a productive person again – I used to suffer weekly, but have been totally free of migraines for the past 5 years. I also used cannabis to help in treating my dog, Duke (pictured above). Essentially, I would put it into his food. It was unbelievable how quickly the cancer left! Duke’s appetite returned, and it seemed to help the arthritis in his lower back. I think other dog owners should know about how THC can help in treating dogs with cancer.

When Duke was 15, the cancer can back with a vengeance! I couldn’t stand to see him suffer so, we had a vet come to put him down. It was the most beautiful, saddest day. All day, he had no strength to even lift his head. When the vet turned up, Duke got up and slowly walked over to the grave of his adopted Momma (my mom’s Rottie, Sheila). Then he went and got his Kong, and dropped it at my feet for one last catch. He went over and nosed/sniffed Lucy (Rottwiler/Lab mix) and Etta the cat. Duke then went to lay in the bed, as if to let us know it was time. The vet and her husband were sobbing … it was something incredible.

Duke was the very best, most loving dog.

treating dogs wiht cancer represented by happy dog on walk

The RxLeaf Angle on Treating Dogs With Cancer

No one has the proof yet to say cannabis cures cancer. However, lab and pre-clinical studies indicate it has some promising anti-tutor properties.  A study published in the International Journal for Molecular Science (2020) outlines how THC shrinks lung cancer tumors in mice. Though there are no human studies to back it up yet, there’s potential that cannabinoids could help cancer in dogs.

One note to clear first, however – THC can be seriously toxic to dogs. Although the poster talks about how she believes THC help Duke fight cancer, it is not recommended to simply give your dog cannabis. Pet-specific CBD is generally recognized as safe for dogs1)Gamble, Lauri- Jo et al. (2018). Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165/full but all dosing should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian.

The Animal Endocannabinoid System

It’s amazing how a little bit of trusting intuition can go a long way. Patricia may not have known about cannabis oil or the benefits it can bring dogs, but her gut response — that the same natural medicine that eased her headache pain could help her dog’s — was spot on.

That may seem like a stretch, but cannabis is special. Because it works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a subunit of the central nervous system, cannabis has widespread healing abilities.

The endocannabinoid system was not discovered until the late twentieth century, when scientists finally began to look into the serious health claims cannabis advocates had consistently made for centuries. What they found was a body-wide system that helps manage appetite, mood, immune response, memory, pain sensations, cognitive processes, and fertility.

With a canvas that broad, cannabis can easily affect many of the body’s processes. And humans are not the only organisms whose biology is hard-wired to interact with cannabis. Virtually all mammals share a common endocannabinoid system, which explains why cannabis has potential for treating dogs with cancer.

It also demonstrates how animal trials can be effective research guides for human cannabis studies and usage — although they’re not perfect.

Dogs and Cannabis: What Science Says

Canines may have endocannabinoid systems that function in similar ways to our own, but it’s important to understand that these systems are not functionally identical. There are important differences that make the practice of treating dogs with cannabis slightly different than it is for their owners.

Dogs have many more cannabinoid receptors in their brain than humans do. This means cannabis acts more potently within their bodies than it does in ours because it has more chances to plug directly into their system.

In practical terms, this means that dogs are more sensitive to THC than people are. In large doses, THC can become toxic. People who are treating dogs with cannabis should stay vigilant about limiting their pet’s THC intake. But CBD, which interacts with the endocannabinoid system differently, is much safer. It does not carry a risk for toxicity within dogs.

That’s why CBD has become the favorite cannabinoid for veterinarian recommendations. It’s effective, easy to administer, and foolproof. Dog owners can trust that CBD won’t harm their pet.

CBD administration is also backed up by science. Research published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2018) looked into how dogs’ bodies process CBD how that can help with dog arthritis, which is a problem for larger breeds. The results showed that dogs were much more mobile following oral CBD doses — and that they felt significantly less pain. It concluded that 2 mg of CBD twice a day was the most desirable dosage for treating arthritis in canines.

Other studies have shown how the same compound can reduce animal aggression.

So, CBD is safe for pets. While CBD can help offset cancer symptoms in humans, does it really work that well in dogs — and what about the other cannabinoids present in cannabis?

treating dogs with cancer represented by happy dog in field

Can Cannabis Help Dogs with Cancer?

The best cannabis-based medicine for dogs is undoubtedly CBD, but it can be hard to get pure CBD. Many CBD-based products include trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis — and most sources agree that THC is dangerous to dogs.

While very small amounts of THC may not produce negative effects, there isn’t enough research available to determine just how much THC dogs can ingest safely. For owners curious about treating dogs with cancer by using cannabis, science recommends sticking with high-quality CBD-only products.

But even that requires great care. Dogs’ higher number of cannabinoid receptors means they cannot be dosed as if they’re tiny humans. Instead, the biology of dogs must be taken into account. While a person may be able to handle 25 mg of CBD without blinking an eye, that may be too much for a dog.

So, when it comes to treating dogs with cancer, start low and go slow. The study above recommended 2 mg of CBD twice a day — but even that should not be the starting point. Start lower.

Warning Signs of Cannabis Toxicity in Dogs

So what if the CBD you purchased contains more THC than it claims — and that’s a common problem with cheap products. Remember that while it’s true that THC might be able ton help fight cancer in humans, it is dangerous to canines.

How can you tell if your dog has taken too much, even accidentally?

A paper published in Veterinary and Human Toxicology (2004) ((Janczyk, Pawel et al. Veterinary and human toxicology examined over two hundred cases of cannabis-induced toxicosis in canines.

It found the following conditions can arise when dogs ingest THC:

  • Increase appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Hypersensitive to touch and sounds
  • Sudden poor coordination (walking “drunk”)
  • Inability to control bladder functions
  • Throwing up

If your dog begins to display these symptoms after treatment, it’s time to take them to the vet. Further, its good at this point to reconsider the kind of medicine you gave them.

Luckily, most dogs recover from excess THC within twenty-four hours, but there’s no way to tell how bad the problem is without a vet’s examination.

While it’s unlikely to kill the dog, it can make for a truly bad day, and lead to some dangerous behavior. An unsteady and mentally hampered dog can be dangerous to others.

The best way to avoid this is to carefully buy products, start with a very low dose, and keep a close eye on your pet.

Cannabis could be good for dogs with cancer. However, this would only ever be if it were used correctly.

References   [ + ]

1.Gamble, Lauri- Jo et al. (2018). Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165/full

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