Canine cannabis? Oakland vet offers holistic treatment

While California voters are deciding if recreational marijuana will become legal, there's been a quiet revolution taking place on the medical side of the issue at your local pet hospital.

At the Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland pets receive acupuncture and other holistic treatment, which now includes cannabis.

"Every veterinarian I know wants nothing more than to make their patients feel better and if this is a way for them to do that, they're very excited about it." says Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian at Montclair.

Dr. Richter says he's been using cannabis to treat pets for about two years and that it can be used on a wide range of ailments.

"Treating pain, inflammation, helping to control seizures, helping to control anxiety and stress. Gastro intestinal problems. It's such a long list it's really quite amazing that one thing can have so many broad uses."

Usually the cannabis comes in oil form and is given orally or on the animal's food.

Richter says the products he uses are hemp based, which are legal in all 50 states and don't contain the high levels of THC found in recreational or medical marijuana. "If the pet's getting high than they're getting too much."

Richter tells KTVU he says he doesn't use marijuana because it's still illegal.

"There's no legal mechanism by which a veterinarian can prescribe or recommend medical marijuana for a pet."

He says cannabis use also requires strict control on quality and dosage.

"To walk into a dispensary and pick up something and try to give it to their dog or cat, it's really a recipe for trouble."

But he says over the counter hemp based pet products can be beneficial.

He says if an owner is considering using it for their pet they should get expert advice first to avoid causing more harm than good.

"I would never suggest that somebody get something from a dispensary that has THC in it and try to give that without talking to a veterinarian who has experience in this field."