New plan to help pets with medicinal pot

YOUR favourite feline or pampered pooch could soon prescribed medicinal marijuana if a new CSIRO project bears any fruit.

The independent Australian federal government agency recently announced it would be working with ASX-listed animal therapeutics company CannPal for 15 weeks to create products for pets containing medicinal cannabis.

Researchers hope the unconventional treatment method will negate the negative side effects of conventional pet medication, which can cause anything from nausea to internal bleeding.

The new partnership means the Australian-based company will have access to the CSIRO's research expertise and facilities.

Consumers could have access to medicinal cannabis products for pets as early as next year. Photo from iStock.
Consumers could have access to medicinal cannabis products for pets as early as next year. Photo from iStock.

The project comes as Australia has one of the highest rates of domestic animal ownership in the world, according to the CSIRO, with 24 million pets spread across 62 per cent of the country.

Researchers say it's high time the products were on the market, and consumers might even see them as early as next year.

"The company aims to have their first nutraceutical product targeting canine skin health available in 2019 and their lead pain prescription drug candidate ready for commercialisation as early as 2021, pending successful results of future studies," CannPal's managing director Layton Mills said.

The project will research a new production process where cannabis oil will be turned into cannabis powder in order for it to be delivered to companion animals, according to the CSIRO's senior research scientist from manufacturing Dr Ben Muir.

"A part of our work is ensuring medicinal cannabis delivery is optimised for the specific animals' body and digestive system," Dr Muir said.

"A horse, for instance, absorbs medicinal cannabis in an entirely different way to a dog."

Mr Mills said a recent study that found humans only "perceived" cannabis to have alleviated their pain. But it would not deter him from continuing the project.

"Well controlled and well-designed studies have shown that the evidence for cannabis as a pain treatment is compelling," Mr Mills said.

"The National Academy of Sciences completed a meta-analysis on all of the current research designed to directly assess cannabis as a treatment for pain, and concluded that there is "substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults."

He said the pet pot products could treat an array of health problems, including pain, appetite, mood, as well as inflammation and behavioural issues.

"Numerous studies have reported cannabinoid receptors to be an ideal target to treat a range of health indications in humans and animals."

Different animals have different ways of absorbing medicinal cannabis. Picture: Supplied
Different animals have different ways of absorbing medicinal cannabis. Picture: Supplied

But Mr Mills did not confirm or deny whether our furry, fluffy or feathered friends would feel the same giddy high as humans who take a toke.

"CannPal is aiming to develop cannabis derived products that, when taken in the right amounts and right formulations, can provide therapeutic benefits without negative side effect profiles," he said.

"However it's important to note that certain cannabis compounds can be harmful to pets when taken in the wrong amounts and pet owners should be aware that taking too much of any unapproved drug without the guidance of a trained veterinarian can be dangerous."

CannPal has already completed the first phase of trial testing medicinal cannabis products for pets, according to Mr Mills, who said they were well tolerated with no adverse reactions.



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