It’s being hailed as a new way to help your pet. Cannabis oils and edibles have become an increasingly popular way to treat arthritis and anxiety in dogs, but could it also be putting these animals at risk?
Cookie sometimes has back pain or she sometimes gets a cough because she had a collapsed trachea. Her owner, Katrin Carter, doesn’t want to give her prescribed medication because she says the vet bill can be sky high. She instead turned to an alternative medicine that many people use to treat their own pain and illness: marijuana.
“When she gets in one of those coughing fits, she gets scared, and she can’t stop,” Carter explained. “It’s like with us, when we get something irritating so I give it to her and it calms her down and she’ll sleep good and she’s fine.”
Carter gives Cookie a supplement that has CBD oil. Her other dog, Reggie gets it twice a day.
“Reggie, he has hip dysplasia so he’s getting it for pain and it really has made a big difference,” Carter said. “Before, he could hardly jump in and out of the car, and now it takes him longer than it used to but he can do it.”
From treats to CBD oil drops, a growing number of pot products are now specifically geared toward pets. Employees at Natural Healing Center in Grover Beach say they have a difficult time keeping up with the demand.
“With Vet CBD, you give it to your pet’s food or water and it might take up to 24 hours to give effects. After that, the benefits will start kicking in,” said Lead Customer Service Representative, Antonio Contreras.
The products are infused with CBD and contain only a trace amount of marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC. Many veterinarians say it’s not enough to get pets high.
“I’ve had more than a handful of patients that have benefited,” said Dr. Ann Staker of Paso Petcare Veterinary Hospital. “Not that I have prescribed it, but a client called me with a problem with their dog usually it’s arthritis or epilepsy, those are the two big ones, but it can also in certain doses, it can help with anxiety, it can help with digestion, it can help with appetite.”
Though a proponent of pot for pets, Dr. Stacker is not allowed to prescribe it…
“Right now, we are not allowed to carry it in our hospital because the feds could come in and raid me and take away my DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) license,” Dr. Stacker explained.
A San Jose assemblyman introduced legislation that would allow vets to prescribe pot to our four legged friends. It’s on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed.
On the same token, vets say there haven’t been enough studies done to prove the real effectiveness.
“We’re just at a position right now where there’s a lot of good that can be done, but there’s a lot of opportunity for people to be taking advantage of the consumer and selling them stuff that might not be effective at all,” said Dr. Bonnie Markoff of Animal Care Clinic in San Luis Obispo.
Though it’s being more widely used, not every dog owner is high on the idea.
“I’d rather not give my dog any marijuana treats but if it got to the point where like he was just miserable all the time and he really needed like a good pain relief that wasn’t going to mess up his system, I’d consider it,” said dog owner, Angela Deline.
As for Cookie and Reggie, they’ve been using it for a few months now, and their owner plans to keep them on it.
“I really think it’s a good alternative to chemicals because it’s natural and it works on so many different levels for so many different reasons,” Carter concluded.
If you do decide to give your pet CBD, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage. These products have not yet been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness.
As more states have legalized marijuana, the Pet Poison Helpline has seen a nearly 450% increase in calls.
Earlier this year, researchers at Cornell University released results of a study treating dogs with CBD infused cannabis chews who were suffering from osteoarthritis and joint pain. They found more than 80 percent of the dogs showed dramatic improvement over those who received a placebo. A study is underway on the effects on cats.