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Can medical cannabis be used to treat pets? Many pet owners think so.

There are plenty of accounts on the Internet of people feeding cannabis oil to distressed pooches — whether prescribed by a vet or not. (For the record, the Australian Veterinarian Association does not recommend feeding your pets cannabis oil).

Pharmaceutical company CannPal Animal Health is looking to raise $6 million via an Initial Public Offering to develop approved medical marijuana pet treatments.

CannPal would be valued at about $18.5 million if it successfully sold 30 million shares at 20c each.

The Sydney-based company is piggybacking on research from Zelda Therapeutics (ASX:ZLD) to provide pain relief for dogs. Zelda shareholders have a priority allocation of up to 5 million shares in the IPO.

CannPal founder Layton Mills said pet products were a natural progression from human cannabis-based medicines.

“People are following trends in human health with their pets so it was a natural progression for us to move into cannabis for pets.

“We have heard of owners feeding dogs edibles that they can’t digest and the problem is that there is no research behind it — so we know the real risks,” he said.

CannPal has been working in a pre-clinical phase for the past 12 months, leveraging Zelda’s research to fast-track the development process.

“The advantage you have with animals is that it is considerably quicker and cheaper,” Mr Mills said.

“For the final phase of testing we need we need to test only 250 dogs, whereas in humans we would need at least 1000.”

While it’s very early in the process, Mr Mills expects to eventually develop a treatment in the form of a patch or chew/tablet. The approval process could take about five years, however.

“We want people to know that we are pharma focussed with a strong board and credentials – we want to be taken seriously.”

The global animal drug market is estimated to be worth US$29 billion ($36 billion).

Once  products were successfully tested for dogs, CannPal would move to increasing offerings for pain in cats as well.