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“Pot Patch” for Pups
Company explores pain-relief potential for pets

Last year, a company called Medical Marijuana Delivery Systems, LLC (MMDS) acquired the rights to a patent for a transcutaneous (through the skin) delivery of medical marijuana to humans and animals. Since our pets suffer from many of the same debilitating illnesses that we do, and with many states legalizing the use of medical marijuana, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to apply this concept of care to our pets. This “pot patch for pups” has been given the trade name Tetracan, and the goal is for public availability by the end of 2012.

 

At first blush, the thought of canine cannabis sounded a bit over the top to me. However, current research shows this new marijuana patch is a very reliable delivery system. The maker of this product ensures that only the pain relieving effects are transmitted to the patient and that it will not make your pet “high.” (See my earlier blog post about dogs brought into the ER after eating marijuana.)

 

This transcutaneous patch is being developed to help patients manage pain, nausea and anxiety but without the psychotropic effect of marijuana. Seattle-based MMDS is also working on topical applications for animals in place of the patch; it would be similar to applying the monthly flea and tick treatment with which many pet parents are familiar.

 

Of course, to buy the patches or ointment, you’d need to be a medical marijuana patient yourself since dogs can’t get authorization from a veterinarian. That is, at least, not yet. The company is pressing for changes in state laws to permit veterinarians to prescribe medical cannabis for pets.

 

What does the American Veterinary Medical Association think of Tetracan? At this time, the association has not released a position statement on the use of medical marijuana on animals, but it has done extensive studies on the use of fentanyl patches for pain relief. Dispensing fentanyl, a highly controlled substance and potent synthetic narcotic, is well within normal veterinary practice standards.

 

Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and needs to be used cautiously in geriatric, very ill or debilitated pets, especially those with underlying respiratory issues. This leads the medical devil’s advocate to ask, “Why not try to integrate a more natural, plant-based approach?” Harnessing the pain relieving effects of marijuana may prove to be a safer alternative for these pets.

 

While the patch does conjure up visions of pups frolicking in fields of poppies and wanting extra helpings of kibble, I have to say that I can see several potential benefits if it is carefully researched and brought to market. It will be interesting to see how the medical and legal aspects of its use develop. It may prove to be a potential alternative to chronic pain in our pets, especially when some chemical pharmaceutical painkillers can be harmful, sometimes even fatal, in weakened pets.

 

► What do you think about medical marijuana for pets? If it were deemed safe for dogs, and was recommended by your veterinarian, would you consider using a marijuana patch on your dog?

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Veterinarian Shea Cox has enjoyed an indirect path through her professional life, initially obtaining degrees in fine arts and nursing. She later obtained her veterinary medical degree from Michigan State University in 2001 and has been practicing emergency and critical care medicine solely since that time. In 2006, she joined the ER staff at PETS Referral Center in Berkeley and cannot imagine a more rewarding and fulfilling place to spend her working hours. In her spare time, she loves to paint, wield her green thumb, cook up a storm and sail. Her days are shared with the three loves of her life: her husband Scott and their two Doberman children that curiously occupy opposite ends of the personality spectrum.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Anonymous | March 7 2012 |

Finally! They should make them for humans as well. So many pain, as well as nausea relief benefits can be experienced by many. Not everyone wants to get stoned to reap the positive results. I really hope this is successful.

Submitted by Carolyn | March 7 2012 |

Why not? Seems like there are generally fewer side effects than many synthetic drugs. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 7 2012 |

If my dog were in pain, I would certainly consider it.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 8 2012 |

I would definitely consider it if my veterinarian recommended it. It certainly sounds safer than the drugs like Rimidyl being prescribed for pain at this time.

Submitted by Chelsea | March 16 2012 |

I would definitely use it whether or not my vet recommended it. I used it on my own basal cell carcinoma spots on my face and was ready for surgery. Three weeks of putting cannabis oil on the cancer, I had a second biopsy which was negative. No more surgery. Of course I would want my dogs to have the benefits of cannabis which has proven to rid the body of many cancers.

Submitted by John Davis | April 28 2012 |

There is no doubt that cannabis is effective on pets. Take a look at the scientific research:

http://www.vetguru.com/2012/02/16/medical-marijuana-pets-a-scientific-re...

A quick google search revealed that there are commercial medical marijuana products already available for pets:

http://www.companioncannabis.com

Gotta love Google! Anyways, Ive used it on my pet and know many of my friends have done the same for a variety of medical conditions. When used responsibly, its a great therapy option for pets in my opinion. Even my vet agreed (after i printed the research and brought it in to show him).

Submitted by Nydawi | November 8 2012 |

As long as it is very safe, no chance of intoxicating my loved one- I'm all for it!

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