Researchers at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College are beginning a three-year study of cannabis as a treatment for bladder cancer in dogs.
The university said it’s one of Canada’s first studies of the potential use of cannabis for treating animal cancer.
“Veterinarians and pet owners have been eager for information on the medical applications for cannabis,” OVC dean Jeff Wichtel said. “This groundbreaking work will help us learn about the role of cannabinoids in cancer and advance this field of medical research in Canada.”
The research will be headed up by Sam Hocker in the department of clinical studies, who will focus on the potential “anti-cancer properties of cannabidiol (CBD).”
He will study the effects of CBD on bladder cancer cell lines and hopes to learn whether the substance kills cancer cells and how it works.
He will also look at the effects of using CBD along with radiation and chemotherapy.
The university said urothelial carcinoma is responsible for two per cent of all cancers in all dog breeds and the tumours are extremely difficult to remove surgically.
Radiation and chemotherapy are usually relied upon but treatment results vary, with patients surviving between three months and two years.
Hocker said the work with dogs could help in designing treatment options for bladder cancer in humans.
The university pointed out that there are no medical cannabis products licensed in Canada for treating animals. Various groups, including the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, are lobbying for legislation to allow veterinarians to legally authorize medical cannabis.