TORONTO -- An Ontario university is set to undertake a three-year study in treating dog cancer with cannabis.

The University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College said in a news release Tuesday that the research could “help point the way to alternative pet therapies.” The study will focus on the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis compound, in treating bladder cancer in canines, with particular focus on a common and “hard-to-treat” form known as urothelial carcinoma.

“Veterinarians and pet owners have been eager for information on the medical applications for cannabis,” said vet college dean Jeff Wichtel in the statement. “This groundbreaking work will help us learn about the role of cannabinoids in cancer and advance this field of medical research in Canada.”

Urothelial carcinoma tumours are difficult to remove in surgery for both humans and dogs, with about 20 per cent of human cases presenting more difficult surgical scenarios. In addition to identifying new treatment for animals, the new study “could ultimately help in designing potential therapeutic options for the more aggressive form of bladder cancer in humans,” said lead researcher Professor Sam Hocker in the statement.

The research will look at whether CBD can kill cancer cells, and how the substance works in circus with radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

While medicinal cannabis is used to treat humans for a variety of health issues, there are currently no legal and licensed cannabis products for veterinarians to prescribe, a fact that some groups are trying to change. The Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine is one non-profit group lobbying for legislation and “species-specific research” like the new University of Guelph study.