Like many seniors, an elderly woman who was moving to a nursing home had no one to care for her beloved little dog. Thinking that the only option was euthanasia, she made the dreaded appointment. The small, sweet-tempered, nine-year-old was in good health, had been well cared for and likely had many years left to enjoy, if given a chance. The veterinarian called ElderDog for help and, within hours, the little dog was on her way to a foster home. Her stay would be short. The day before, ElderDog received a call from a distraught senior, who had lost both her husband and dog within a very short period and desperately wanted a small companion. After several phone calls, paperwork, visits and the coordinated effort of ElderDog volunteers, the sweet little dog was in the loving care of her new, very excited senior companion whose own life had just been given new purpose. It all began with two phone calls about a senior dog and a senior person in need — of each other.
person in need — of each other. Buster and Boo are elderly dogs and loving companions to a senior human whose health makes it difficult for him to provide the full range of care they require. It’s not easy to manage trips to the vet and regular exercise from a wheelchair. An alternative living arrangement is not an option for this gentleman if it means giving up his dogs, who mean the world to him. ElderDog has been a lifeline for this household as volunteers do what is necessary to keep the family together as long as possible. They help care for Buster and Boo so that they remain happy and healthy and so that their companion can enjoy the many benefits of their companionship. The dogs have won the hearts of the volunteers who do what they can to help keep love in the home.
And then there are Ben and Sandy and Gypsy and Jessie, and the list goes on: senior dogs who lost their senior companion due to illness, death or relocation and who, through ElderDog, are in new loving homes, living out their twilight years in comfort and with the dignity they deserve after so many years of loyal devotion to their former companions.
ElderDog Canada is a national, non-profit charity dedicated to supporting senior people, senior dogs and the important relationship they enjoy. Headquartered in Nova Scotia and with chapters (Pawds) in six provinces, more than 650 volunteers carry out the work of ElderDog. The no-fee work includes providing seniors in-home assistance with basic dog care, finding new homes for older dogs who have lost their human, helping seniors find a mature canine companion to grow old with and supporting research and educating the public about the important role of dogs in seniors’ lives.
For more information about ElderDog Canada or to become involved, contact us through www.elderdog.ca or 1-855-336-4226.
From the Canadian Veterinary
Marijuana has been prominent in pet news recently due to the rise of medical marijuana use in people and its impending legalization in Canada. It is important for you to know about these products since the probability of your pet becoming exposed is increasing.
The Effects Of Using Medical Marijuana In Pets Is Not Well Studied To Date
It appears dogs are proportionately more sensitive to the active compounds in marijuana than people. An American study in 2012 by Meola and others reported increased rates of toxicity seen in dogs living in Colourado, a state with recent legalization of marijuana. In fact a four-fold increase in toxicities was reported between 2010 and 2015.
In small dogs, excessive intake can easily result in signs of toxicity, as listed below. Cats are not immune to toxic side effects, but are much more selective in their food intake. Cats generally avoid eating garbage, scavenging butts on walks around the block, or table or counter surfing, and they lack a sweet tooth so we do not see them take in “pot” products like dogs do.
Though, no pet is immune to respiratory irritation from side-stream smoke or purposeful cannabinoid product administration, with possible inadvertent (or, very rarely intended) overdose or illness resulting.
Signs Of Excess Cannabis Exposure In Pets Include:
- Fast or slow heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Bloodshot eyes
- Low body temperature
- Wobbling, pacing and agitation
- Sound or light sensitivity
- Inappropriate urination
Where Does Marijuana Come From?
Cannabis sativa L. plants are the source from which recreational and most medical marijuana products are prepared. Preparation includes drying of leaves and flowers. Different types of prepared marijuana have a range of levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the well-known psychoactive compound. “Marijuana” refers to products containing any bioactive cannabinoid compounds, of which THC is just one example.
Marijuana Can Be Broken Down Into Three Classes:
Recreational: The plants can be smoked or vaporized from the dried leaves and flowers, or used in baking and other oral preparations for humans. This class has the highest risk for pet toxicity due to high THC levels.
Medical: These products contain moderate to high CBD levels (cannabidiol, another cannabinoid; a non-psychoactive compound), and minimal to moderate THC. These medicinal products are used for antibacterial, gut-soothing and anxietysoothing treatments in people. They are also used for anti-nausea and vomiting, anti-oxidant, pain relieving and anti-itch properties in people in addition to the psychological effects. Medical marijuana may be prescribed for cancer, osteoarthritis, chemotherapy, epilepsy and certain inflammatory bowel conditions in humans. There are many plant cannabinoids (80-113 different types reported), and CBD is the main cannabinoid selected for in most medical marijuana products. Human medical products do not emphasize psychological effects (THC), but rather promote proposed medicinal effects (CBD). Strong psychoactive effects of THC are not generally desired for human medicinal use. Some of these products contain enough THC to produce toxicity in pets.
Hemp: A different subspecies, industrial hemp, has been cultivated for centuries for its rich fibre. It has been used in textiles and paper. Hemp tends to be the plant type used for pet “medical cannabis;” most of those products are hemp oil, tincture or hemp powder. Some pet hemp oil products are available for legal purchase in Canada and Europe because the products contain either none or just a trace of THC, and they are derived from legal hemp plants. Currently, pet hemp products are being promoted as aids for itching, anxiety, nausea, poor appetite, seizures, cancer, digestive problems, inflammation, immune disease and reduced mobility due to joint pain in animals. Hemp products do not get the pet “high,” but effective and safe dosages have not been studied. Hemp is very low in THC and contains minor to moderate CBD levels; there is currently insufficient research data to know rates or thresholds for toxicity.
Veterinarians Are Not Allowed To Prescribe Any Of These Products For Pets
Certain legal hemp products may be useful in pets according to some experts, but veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe any of these products for pets. In fact, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) reminded its veterinarians that: “There are currently no *CBD products approved by Health Canada and therefore no legal pathway to obtain these products.” (*CBD refers to cannabidiol).
Pet owners who intend to administer these products without veterinary consultation, as some have done when traditional medicines have failed, are doing so even though no proven safe and effective doses have been published. Due to lack of suffi- cient evidence about effective, safe dosage and optimal frequency of administration in dogs and cats, owners should not dose their pets with any type of marijuana product. The only information we know for certain at this time is that dogs have a higher sensitivity to the same dose of cannabinoids when compared proportionately to people.
Further research is recommended to understand the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana in veterinary medicine. For now, marijuana of any type is not approved for medicinal use in animals, and giving products to your pet may have unknown side effects and unproven effectiveness. Especially, exposing them to THC-rich recreational marijuana could put them in a life-threatening medical crisis.
Kathleen Cavanagh BSc DVM ME, CVMA Consultant Online Editor; Jennifer Kyes, DVM, DACVECC (Critical Care), Specialist Editor.