University of Guelph’s Veterinary College in Ontario, Canada, has just begun a 3-year first-of-its-kind study looking into the ability of cannabidiol (CBD) to treat bladder cancer in dogs.
They’re focusing on a particularly hard-to-treat form of the cancer called urothelial carcinoma. What makes it difficult to treat is it’s extremely hard to reach thus you can’t remove it surgically. Which leaves chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy where results have been highly variable – patients survive anywhere between 3 months and 2 years – and where there significant side effects such as pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and bleeding.
The study could have broad application, not just for animals in general but also for people. The scientist running the research, Samuel Hocker, assistant professor of veterinary medical oncology at Guelph, told the Toronto Star that by learning more about the potential anti-cancer properties of CBD with dogs, it “could ultimately help in designing potential therapeutic options for the more aggressive form of bladder cancer in humans.”
An interesting backstory to the CBD research is the groundswell of pet owners that helped get it going. “Certainly the single, largest driving force is the demand from pet families,” says Dr. Sarah Silcox, president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine. She adds that there’s proof of how cannabis and its various components work in animals. For instance, studies have shown that CBD treats osteoarthritis and epilepsy in dogs.
In spite of that, however, there’s one catch: While medicinal cannabis can be used to treat people, both Canada and the US outlaw its use in animals, which veterinary groups and pet owners are lobbying to change. Hopefully, this research will aid their cause.