Marijuana, Pets and You

With the legalization of recreational cannabis use coming into effect on 17 October 2018 and the growing acceptance of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in human therapeutics, we as veterinarians are expecting both increased interest in using cannabis and cannabinoid products in pets as well as increased toxicity cases, especially in dogs.

The plant Cannabis spp., found worldwide, has many different subspecies or strains, each with varying properties of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds. Nonpsychogenic strains are lower in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), and are used in the food and fibre industry. Psychogenic strains, with varying THC levels, are used in medical therapy. Of the hundreds of compounds found in Cannabis spp. so far, over 100 are phytocannabinoids. The best known are THC, CBD (Cannabinoid), CBN, and CBG. These are being used to produce cannabis-derived products for drug approval and, along with other phytocannabinoids, are being studied for their potential use in human medicine, for a multitude of unrelated conditions.

There are no Health Canada–approved CBD products for animals.

There are currently over 100 licensed natural products in Canada that contain Cannabis sp. or a derivative (mostly hemp seed). These include Veterinary Health Products containing hemp seed or hemp seed oil. Their use is promoted by companies, cannabis enthusiasts, and some physicians and veterinarians. Food animal producers are also interested in the use of hemp seeds and other cannabis products. While our knowledge of cannabis is rapidly advancing, we have significant gaps in our veterinary knowledge. We do not know, in any of our patient species, mechanisms of actions, pharmacokinetics, or pharmacodynamics.

There are a handful of studies in progress, and with increased interest, we hope to see many more that apply to our patients. Using whole or partial plants, currently considered the better practice among some practitioners, provides no reliable efficacy or dosing because of variabilities in strains, growing conditions, and suppliers, with varied and unpredictable side effects. For any cannabis product, a physician, pharmacist, or veterinarian will want a Certificate of Analysis of THC, CBD, and other compounds, and be assured of consistency in the formulation.

Consideration of the legal aspects of cannabis prescribing by veterinarians is of equal importance to the medicine. Currently, all parts of the Cannabis spp. plant and substances derived from it are controlled as a Schedule II substance, unless exempt under the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR), Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), or through a research exemption (Controlled Drug and Substances Act, CDSA). Veterinarians need to understand that the ACMPR applies to “persons,” not “patients,” and that veterinarians and veterinary patients are not included in these regulations. The IHR defines “hemp” as a Cannabis spp. a cultivar that contains less than 0.3% THC in leaves and flowers and allows licensed “hemp” producers to grow “hemp,” but only the stalks and seeds may be used in products that must be under 10ppm THC. Through the Veterinary Drugs Directorate, Health Canada evaluates and monitors the safety, quality, and effectiveness; sets standards; and promotes the prudent use of veterinary drugs administered to food-producing and companion animals.

Currently, veterinarians without a research exemption have no legal pathway to prescribe cannabis or cannabis-derived products.

The Federal Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, will remove cannabis from the CDSA Schedule 11 and legalize access to recreational cannabis in Canada when it comes into force on October 17, 2018. The CVMA has lobbied for the inclusion of veterinarians and veterinary patients into the Cannabis Act, labelling for the safety and prevention of toxicity in animals, and for inclusion of CBD products to the veterinary drug list.

There are no Veterinary Health Drugs with cannabis or cannabis-derived ingredients expected in the near future.

Summarized from an article by NICOLETTE JOOSTING, DVM in West Coast Veterinarian Magazine, Sept 2018

Written By: Dr. Alex Hare, DVM



The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

Pets can get lost which can be a traumatic and possibly tragic event.  It’s important to have a collar and ID tag, but these are not foolproof.  Collars can break or fall off leaving your pet unidentifiable. This can be prevented with the use of a microchip. As noted in the Dartmouth Tribune in April 2017: A pet is lost every seven seconds One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime Only 2 percent of lost cats and 17 percent of lost dogs with ID return home When a pet gets lost, they are 20 times more likely to make their way back home when they have a microchip A microchip is a small chip that is encoded with a unique identification number.  It is no bigger than a grain of rice and implanted just under the surface of your pet’s skin.  The process is similar to receiving a vaccination through a needle and is virtually painless to pets.  Once implanted, the microchip remains between the shoulder blades just beneath the skin for the rest of the animal’s lifetime, becoming a permanent form of identification. Since it’s under your pets’ skin it can’t break or fall off like a collar or tag. The chip is powered by a scanner which sends a signal to the chip and receives the identification number stored on it.  A vet or shelter can use the scanner to read your pet’s chip.  With the identification number, your pet’s information is a phone call away. When your pet is microchipped, it is linked to a database with your contact info.  It is essential that you register the microchip and ensure your contact information is kept up to date.  If you move or change phone numbers be sure to update your information.  Microchips are reliable and use nationwide registries, but they depend on the information you provide. If you want to improve your chances of getting your pet back home quickly and safely microchipping is highly recommended.   Written by Tracy LeFler, Site Coordinator Edited by Janis Wall, RVT

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Last updated: March 22, 2022.

Dear Clients,

Our top priority here at Westwood Hills is the ongoing health and safety of our clients, their pets, and our dedicated team members that serve you and the community.

NEW: We kindly request that clients continue wearing facemasks during their visits to our hospital. Our staff will continue to wear masks, as they remain one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.
* *Facemasks are no longer mandatory in veterinary clinics (but still highly recommended) as per recent provincial guidelines.

Here is what you can expect during your next visit:

  • We ask that all clients keep their distance / practice social distancing.
  • Continue the use of debit / credit cards as the preferred payment method.
  • For those interested we will still offer curbside pickup. Please place your food and medication order 48 hours in advance.
  • We are constantly analyzing our day to day actions and we appreciate your patience. We will continue to implement procedures that are in the best interest of both you, our clients and our staff.

    If you are not feeling well in any way, or if you have interacted with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 we ask that you stay isolated and do not visit us at the clinic. If your pet needs medical attention please have a family member or friend bring in your pet or pick up prescriptions / food.


    Monday - Friday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
    Saturday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
    Sunday: Closed


    Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Westwood Hills Veterinary Hospital