Cannabis for pets??

Unlike physicians and human health-care practitioners, veterinarians cannot prescribe cannabis for medical purposes for their animal patients. Under the Cannabis Act, cannabis for medical purposes applies to humans only.

Under the Cannabis Act, prescription drugs derived from cannabis are a legal pathway for access to cannabis for animals. All phytocannabinoids, including CBD and all the other naturally occurring active ingredients in cannabis plants, have been placed on the Prescription Drug List and, therefore, they are subject to the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations as well. There are currently no approved cannabis-derived prescription drugs for animals, meaning there is no legal pathway for veterinarians to obtain or dispense these products for animals in Canada. CBD products currently being marketed and sold in Canada for use in pets are operating outside of the current legislative framework.

Legally purchased recreational cannabis from authorized provincial retail sales outlets can be distinguished from black market cannabis by its packaging. Legal products:

  • Are packaged and labeled according to strict rules set by Health Canada;
  • Have packaging with a CRA excise stamp on it;
  • Do not make health claims;
  • Do not have an indication for animal use; and
  • Undergo quality control to ensure, among other things, that concentrations of CBD and THC that are indicated on the label are accurate, and free of specified contaminants (e.g. certain pesticides, mold toxins, heavy metals)

Veterinarians may advise clients on the use of legally available recreational cannabis for their pets based on sound professional judgment.

At this time there are no Health Canada approved cannabis products for veterinary use.   For this reason, veterinarians are unable to prescribe or recommend cannabis products for our patients. 

However, if this is a product you are already using, or you would like to add it to your pet’s medical plan, I may guide you on the safe use of legally available recreational cannabis products.

As part of your consultation, we will discuss the treatment goals you have and the benefits (and drawbacks) of adding cannabis to your pet’s medical therapy plan.

How comfortable are you with purchasing an extract product or plant material to extract yourself, administering the product, and monitoring your pet for its effects?

The consultation also consists of a complete review of medical records including current diet, medications, supplements and any other therapies in use, potential drug-drug and drug-herb interactions, and analysis of products being used. Follow up visits will fine-tune therapies until the treatment goals have been met.

What causes shaky legs?

I recently had a question about what can cause shaking, especially in the legs of an older dog.  The most common cause of shaking legs in the young dog that I see is fear- these are dogs that do not want to be in the examination room! But for the older dog shaking at home, muscle weakness is often the root cause. Several systemic illnesses can result in muscle weakness. Kidney disease often causes loss of muscle tissue as well as imbalances in the electrolytes, various minerals that are essential for muscle function. Adrenal gland disease can also cause muscle loss and electrolyte imbalances. Cancer must always be on the list as well, due to the unpredictable nature of the disease. Systemic disorders are diagnosed with blood and urine testing, sometimes x-rays and ultrasound as well, usually on an outpatient basis. Therapy can include dietary modifications, mineral supplementation and physical therapy, as well as medications where needed.

Pain from arthritis is an often unrecognized factor in shaky legs and muscle weakness. When it is more difficult to get up and move, your pet exercises less, and muscles gradually atrophy. While leg joints such as hips, knees and elbows are often affected, don’t forget all the joints in the back. As many of us know, when the back hurts, everything hurts.

Acupuncture and cold-laser therapy are the basic tools that I utilize for my patiens with arthritis. Prolotherapy and stem cell therapy very successful, but are more “invasive” interventions, and must be done with sedation or anesthesia, so are not suitable for all pets. Massage is wonderful because it is usually available from travelling therapists who will come to your home. Some massage techniques are also very easy to learn to do yourself, and are a special close bonding experience for you and your dog or cat. Herbal and nutritional interventions such as high levels of omega-3’s from fish oil, green-lipped muscle extract, cucurmin (turmeric extract), MSM, glucosamine etc. can be very effective in reducing the pain and mobility restrictions of arthritis. Physical therapy is also a very valuable part of a multi-modal approach to arthritis, to help strengthen muscles and the tissues that support the joints.

For more on integrative arthritis care, please read “Arthritis Therapy: Integrative Approach”

Cold weather exercise tips

As the weather gets colder, don’t shortchange your pets’ exercise needs. Smaller dogs and cats are happy to play fetch or chase inside the house, and up and down stairs if you have them. Spread meals or treats out in different rooms to make dinner or snack time it into a “hunting” game. With larger dogs, use “sit” command followed by luring with a toy or treat into a stand, called a “sit-to-stand” exercise; repeat 10-20 times for fit dogs, 5-10 times for old or arthritic dogs.  Next do a “sit-to-beg”, exercising both thighs and balance! If you are lucky enough to have an indoor play facility or swim facility in your town, those are also very useful. Enroll your dog in agility classes or Rally-o; many local clubs exist that meet regularly.

Protect tender toes from ice and snow with neoprene, leather or fleece booties- many styles are available. Various jackets are available for short-coated dogs to help keep their core temperature stable. Older pets and very young puppies are most at risk for cold exposure, as they may not be able to regulate tehir body temperature well. Make sure you check regularly for signs of overexposure when outdoors with your pets such as whining, shivering, or loss of interest in play activities. It is better to get indoors well before any chance of frostbite can occur!

Pain is a Pain

Recently when suffering a barometric pressure-change headache I was thinking about pain in our companion animals. We can’t ask them where and how it hurts, if the pain is worse with certain activities or at certain times of day. As veterinarians we have to play detective, and try to figure things out with physical examination and lab test findings, and integrative veterinarians have extra tools such as knowledge of trigger points, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine diagnostic points and meridian flow. Guardians need to be ever aware of subtle changes in behaviour that may be an indication of pain in your beloved companions. Here is a good article on picking up those subtle changes,
All of the injuries and disorders that can cause human beings pain can cause pain in animals.
Complementary therapies for pain such as acupuncture, massage, cold-laser therapy and herbal medicine can safely combine with or even replace the use of painkillers such as opiates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) and other pharmaceuticals.

Workshop: Cooking for your dog

There is great upcoming opportunity available, but only to the first 12 people to respond!
Hilary Watson, veterinary nutritionist, and Janet Craig, a licensed chef, are offering Canine Culinary 101, a workshop to train owners how to prepare home-cooked dog food recipes safely and in bulk using a community kitchen.

Normally these classes cost $55 per person; you receive 4 kilograms of food at the end of class.

A private class is being planned for Dr. Sherebrin and her clients, at a special reduced ratre of $10 per person.
Date: TBA, Bloor-Sherbourne area

A 3-hour cooking workshop AND 4 kilos of healthy prepared dog food for only $10.00!

What owners should bring:

• Tupperware storage containers or large

Ziploc bags that can hold 4 kg of food

• an apron

• a small cutting board

• a knife of choice

• a jar of HILARY’S BLEND supplement*

If you need to purchase a jar of Hilary’s Blend supplement, please let me know ASAP to allow time to order in stock.

No experience necessary! Novices very welcome!
Enjoy the company of other dog owners who
are as committed to their dog’s health as you are!

Pass this message along to any others who may be interested.


NEW Cancer Blood test for Pets

Dr. Sherebrin is participating in a very exciting study on a simple blood test to detect cancer in dogs and cats. The OncoPeT RECAF test is now available. Please contact the Secord Animal Clinic at 416-486-1700 for more information on the study and how to have your pet enrolled.
Remember, the test is still in the validation stage; in preliminary tests it has detected 85 percent of a variety of cancers in dogs at the 95 percent specificity level. No information is available yet on the accuracy in cats.

Does she need to be vaccinated this year? Blood Titre test can help decision-making.

Recent studies have shown that most core vaccinations last longer than one year. One study found adequate serum antibody titres to last for at least 6 years for feline panleukopenia virus, 4 years for feline calcivirus, and 3 years for feline herpesvirus. Many veterinarians are now adjusting their vaccination protocols and determining the frequency of vaccination based upon each individual patient. When determining the frequency of vaccination, several things must be taken into consideration:

  • Medical history and presence of disease or active allergies
  • Antibody titres
  • The age of the animal
  • Prior adverse reaction to vaccination
  • Potential for exposure to the disease
  • Prior vaccination schedule

Titres are tests that determine the amount of antibodies to a particular agent in the blood (i.e. a virus such as parvovirus). This information helps to determine an animal’s immune response upon exposure to the agent, and is used to help decide whether revaccination is required. Titres do not distinguish between immunity generated by vaccination and exposure to the “wild” disease; generally the magnitude of immunity produced by vaccination is lower. An adequate titre is only a measurable quantity of the immune system’s “Memory” response. Neither vaccination nor an adequate titre guarantees protection, which is why it is essential to ensure proper function of the immune system.

Benefits of Checking Titres:

  • May reduce the frequency of vaccination
  • Reduces the risk of allergies, cancer, and other immune mediated diseases
  • Reduces the risk of an anaphylactic reaction associated with vaccination
  • Reduces exposure to toxic chemicals and foreign proteins that are found in some vaccines

Holistic VS Homeopathic- what’s the difference?

Differences between Holistic, Integrative, Naturopathic, Alternative and Homeopathic therapies and practices:

 Do you use holistic, homeopathic and naturopathic interchangeably? Have you ever discussed holistic health and discovered that the other person was defining holistic totally differently? This is not surprising, since no accepted standards exist for holistic, holistic health, or holistic medicine.

Many people, myself included, define holistic as a whole made up of interdependent parts; an inclusive view of the animal in its environment, encompassing its relationships with other pets and the guardian (family).  When applied to illness, it is called holistic medicine and includes a number of factors, such as dealing with the root cause of an illness; increasing client involvement; and considering both conventional (allopathic) and complementary (alternative) therapies.

Some people use Holistic as a synonym for alternative therapies. By this definition, “going holistic” means turning away from all conventional medical options and using alternative treatment exclusively. This meaning mainly relates to illness situations, and sometimes is used for controversial therapies.

Integrative Medicine is the combiantion of conventional and alternative therapies, using multiple modalities to gain the “best of both worlds”.

Naturopathic Medicine is focused on prevention and the use of natural treatment options to promote healing.

Alternative Medicine is defined as modalities of therapy that have not been taught or embraced by colleges of veterinary medicine, used in place of conventional therapies. This definition is very fluid, as different universities in different locations in the world all have variations in what is taught. Over time this also changes. For example, 30 years ago, essential fatty acid supplements were alternative, now they are mainstream. Alternative therapies can include a wide range of modalities such as:  acupuncture, chinese and western herbs, orthomolecular medicine, nutritional supplements, low-level laser therapy, Tellington Touch, acupressure, Reiki, Craniosacral therapy, chiropractic, flower essences, ozone therapy, homeopathy, massage and many other modalities.

Complementary Medicine is defined as modalities that are not taught or embraced by colleges of veterinary medicine, used in addition to conventional therapies (see Integrative Medicine)

Homeopathy from the Greek words homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering) is an entire system of medicine, notable for its practice of prescribing water-based solutions that contain extremely diluted ingredients. The theory of homeopathy was developed by the Saxon physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and first published in 1796. Homeopathy calls for treating “like with like” (law of similars). The practitioner considers the totality of symptoms of a given case. He or she then chooses a homeopathic remedy that has been reported in a homeopathic proving to produce a similar set of symptoms in healthy subjects. This remedy is usually given in extremely low concentrations.