The Vet Who Wants to Legalize Medical Marijuana for Dogs
Apr 5 2013
Photo courtesy of Doug Kramer
Now that it’s possible to legally buy and smoke marijuana in many parts of the US, it’s safe to say that weed and its by-products will be ingested freely throughout the country in the next decade. But have you ever shotgunned a blunt into your dog’s face? If you have, you’re an asshole and should never do it again. But that doesn’t mean your pooch doesn’t like to get high, especially if it’s sick. Veterinarian Doug Kramer is among a small number of experts who believe THC could help canines cope with debilitating and chronic conditions just like it helps humans. I called Dr. Kramer to see how his crusade was going.
VICE: How did you first think to treat sick pups with pot?
Dr. Kramer: A client first brought it to my attention. She was a bit eccentric, but she was a very intelligent woman. She had a pet that was not responding well to any of the pain medications or the steroids that we were giving it, and she wanted to talk about getting medical marijuana. The other vets at the practice were pretty dismissive, but she saw that I was willing to listen.
I read somewhere that at some point your dog, Nikita, was diagnosed with untreatable cancer. You had tried pretty much everything, right?
She had gone through all of the traditional pain medications, even steroids. When it became clear that she was nearing the end, that’s when she had nothing to lose, as long as it didn’t hurt her. At the first dosage, she was up and around. I didn’t cure her. It was just a question of increasing her quality of life and putting off inevitably euthanizing her.
What’s your preferred method of administering THC to dogs?
A glycerin tincture is, to me, by far the optimal way to do it because it offers the greatest accuracy in dosing. It’s also sweet tasting. Obviously you can make it into butter or oil, so anything that you can cook or make with butter or oil would work, like homemade dog biscuits.
Would you recommend the use of medical-marijuana by-products on other pets, like cats?
We’re using it on cats as much, if not more [than on dogs], as an appetite stimulant. Cats are finicky, especially when they’re really sick. Any animal that has the cannabinoid receptors would respond [to THC] the same way we do. There are studies out there that show that pigs, chickens, monkeys, and rats all have those same receptors.
I’ve known people who have blown smoke in their dogs’ faces to get them high. That’s not cool, right?
To me, it’s animal abuse, really. It kills me because it devalues what I’m trying to do. Especially in the early stages, starting the dialogue with veterinary medicine, the last thing you want is for people to do that. The dog doesn’t need the medication in that situation.
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