Dr. Gary Richter on medical cannabis for pets
Dr. Gary Richterholistic and integrative veterinarian
Date Published: 2020-01-19
Date Updated: 2020-08-24
Dr. Gary Richter is one of the world’s most well-known integrative veterinarians. This means that, instead of following Western medicine to a tee or focusing only on alternative medicine, Dr. Richter prescribes only what is proven to work – no matter whether it fits into Western or alternative medical philosophies.
Dr. Richter holds a number of qualifications from the University of Florida, including a Bachelors of Science, a Masters of Science in Veterinary Medical Science, and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. After receiving his doctorate, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998 and started working as both a general practitioner and an emergency clinician.
After spending some time practicing as a conventional veterinarian, Dr. Richter decided to expand his knowledge base. He did training in veterinary chiropractice, herbal therapy, acupuncture, and a number of other alternative veterinary treatments. This broadened his understanding of veterinary medicine and encouraged him to take a more holistic approach in his treatment.
In 2002, Dr. Richter became the owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital, an integrative veterinary clinic located in Oakland, California. In 2009, he went on to become the owner and director of Holistic Veterinary Care, another clinic located in Oakland, and the only veterinary clinic in the area with a rehab center.
Between Dr. Richter and his two hospitals, they have received numerous awards. PetPlan named Dr. Richter one of the top ten veterinarians in the US in 2011, and named Montclaire Veterinary Hospital one of the top ten veterinary hospitals in 2013. Dr. Richter was named “America’s Favorite Veterinarian” by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). Montclair Veterinary Hospital was once named a “pillar” of Oakland for their work in the Bay Area and Oakland communities. Dr. Richter was named Holistic Practitioner of the Year by the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
As someone who is passionate about integrative veterinary health, Dr. Richter prioritizes teaching others about animal wellness. He wrote a book, The Ultimate Pet Health Guide, which went on to become an international best-seller. The book takes a look at both traditional medicine from various cultures as well as modern, Western medical treatments. The book serves as a guide, describing science-backed treatments that have been thoroughly researched and found to be helpful. The book also offers suggestions for certain pet diseases, and focuses a great deal on nutrition and pet food.
When it comes to holistic veterinary health, one question is bound to come up nowadays: what about CBD and medical cannabis for pets? Can medical cannabis benefit animals as well as humans, and how do you treat animal ailments with cannabis? This is a question Dr. Richter has explored a great deal over the past few years. His book has an entire chapter dedicated to medical cannabis for pets where he explores the research and science behind using cannabis to treat animals.
In a 2018 blog post on his website, Dr. Richter shared that medical cannabis has helped his own dog, Leo. After being attacked by another dog, Leo suffered with a broken jaw, and later, seizures. Dr. Richter attempted to treat the seizures with numerous prescription medications, but only found true success after he tried a cannabis preparation. The cannabis eased Leo’s seizures immediately – he went from having multiple seizures a week to one or two a month. Indeed, a recent study that looked at 16 dogs with seizures found that CBD reduces the intensity and frequency of seizures.
Dr. Richter became interested in the healing potential of cannabis when his clients told him about their experiences in using medical cannabis for their pets. He worked with a cannabis grower to create different strains for pets. He saw immediate results – and those results astounded him.
In an interview with HelloMD, Dr. Richter discusses what he’s learned about medical cannabis and pets. “When I started using cannabis it was this unbelievable eye-opening moment,” he says. “Here’s this medicine that is so unbelievably powerful and effective and almost completely unknown in the veterinary industry.” He believes that many veterinarians are curious about medical cannabis, but that few of them fully understand how cannabis and cannabis extracts can affect pets.
The biggest challenge when it comes to medical cannabis for pets? The legal issues, Dr. Richter says. “By far and away the biggest challenges are the legal issue and the lack of understanding on the veterinary community’s part of what they have at their fingertips,” he says. Medical cannabis is becoming legal in more and more parts of the world, but those laws are often specifically about human use and they do not cover the veterinary use of cannabis or CBD.
Dr. Richter found that medical cannabis and cannabis extracts have helped animals with digestive issues, seizures, pain, anxiety, and more. He says that one issue that many people get wrong is the dosage of cannabis for their animals. “I encourage people to please talk to your veterinarian or find some resources. Don’t wing it, don’t try to extrapolate a dose for your cat or dog as if they’re a small person,” he warns in the HelloMD interview. “It just doesn’t really work that way and it’s a recipe for trouble. Find some resources and do it right.”
Interested in learning about cannabis and CBD for dogs? Check out the resources on our website. Here, you can learn about the benefits of CBD for dogs and find a handy CBD dosage chart. As Dr. Richter says, it’s essential to talk to your veterinarian before giving your own pet cannabis or CBD.
Dr. Gary Richter – known as “America’s Favorite Veterinarian” as well as the Holistic Practitioner of the Year for 2019 – has contributed a great deal to the way we understand integrative veterinary health. He’s also a huge proponent of the use of medical cannabis and CBD in animals. If your pet is dealing with a chronic or acute illness, it might be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about medical cannabis.