Pets are finding relief with CBD, too.
When my running partner, Duke, started limping, I’d have done anything I could to help.
Since Duke is a 9-year-old Weimaraner, the first thing we did was go to the vet. Turns out Duke was having back spasms that threw his hips out of whack. The doctor prescribed a regimen of pain meds, steroids and muscle relaxants.
“What about CBD?” I asked.
Her eyes darted left and right. Her lips pursed. She quietly swiped a page off the printer.
“I’m not allowed to discuss it,” she said, handing me a piece of paper that read: “In California, it is still illegal for us to be recommending this. But I thought this might help.” It included a brand name and directions to a nearby dispensary.
A dog’s CBD tale.
As with people, every pup is different. And CBD comes in various formulations — there are isolates and whole-flower derivatives, topicals, tinctures and edibles (oh my) — which can make it hard to find the right product and dose.
More research is needed to find much CBD and which methods are best for various conditions. Does it work as a spot-treatment, or is it more effective to maintain a steady dose? Indefinitely, or for how long?
What we know for sure is that all mammals are wired with an endocannabinoid system that’s intimately connected to mood, pain signaling, metabolism and a host of other processes. CBD supplements help people and pets the same way: by stimulating the endocannabinoid system.
And, like people, apparently not every pooch will experience the benefits they’re seeking from CBD. One woman I spoke to tried CBD oil for her terrier-mutt’s neurological condition, but found it didn’t do much for Sparky. (Important note: THC can make animals very sick and uncomfortable. If you’re just starting to experiment with cannabis therapies for your pet, stick strictly to CBD-only products formulated for pets.)
About two weeks into the medication regimen Duke’s vet prescribed, I started adding CBD oil to his meals. (It would be even more effective to put it directly in his mouth, but he wouldn’t go for it.)
At first I thought it made him sleepy, but I may have been projecting. He’s always been good at napping.
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Duke stayed on CBD for more than two months after finishing his prescription meds and seems to be doing great. His energy and activity levels are back to normal. We’re still not running together, but his mobility has returned and he’s raring to go. While I think the prescription meds kicked off his healing, the CBD has kept it going.
He loves the chicken-flavored drops, which I drizzled over his kibbles. Now that he’s recovered, though, I wonder if we should continue? And that’s the problem – though we know anecdotally that dogs and cats can benefit from CBD, there’s still so much we don’t.
Different dogs, different experiences.
Despite vets’ reluctance to talk openly about it, dog lovers are already widely using CBD to treat a range of issues.
Meet four more pooches that have given cannabidiol a try:
Indy: for anxiety.
A 2-year-old shepherd mix, Indy was having anxiety issues that inspired his owner, Rachel Einstein, to explore CBD. “Having a 120-pound dog with anxiety — it’s a liability,” Einstein says.
The vet recommended prescription meds, but Einstein resisted. Instead, though she isn’t a cannabis user, she ventured into a dispensary for the first time to find something for Indy. “I was totally out of my comfort zone,” she says.
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She ended up with a CBD oil that she put directly into the dog’s mouth. “There’s no question it calmed him down,” she says. “It was remarkable.”
Ultimately, Einstein found prescription anti-anxiety meds were more affordable to manage Indy’s condition, but she would have been happy to keep him on CBD. “I think it was more effective,” she says.
Buddy: for aches and pains.
Buddy was already on steroids, vitamin injections and a special diet for his intestinal disease when owner Chet Thomas incorporated CBD into the Boxer’s regimen.
The cannabinoid was part of an overall strategy, as Buddy was suffering from pain and inflammation.
“It was a management strategy— to get his appetite back, reduce inflammation and counteract the steroids,” Thomas says. “It seemed to help quite a bit.”
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He continued to research the benefits of cannabis, and when Buddy eventually developed cancer, Thomas added a tincture that combined CBD with THC to ease the dog’s discomfort. Thomas was so intrigued by the benefits Buddy experienced that he added CBD to his own health regimen; a former professional skateboarder, Thomas says a few drops of CBD tincture daily help alleviate pain and inflammation from old injuries.
“Knowing I take it myself every day and how much it’s helped me, it’s a no-brainer that it would help a canine since they’re proven to have an endocannabinoid system,” he says. “I’m definitely a big believer in CBD and what it’s proven to do.”
Lucas: for seizures.
Nathalie Dubois will be the first to tell you that she’s not a cannabis person – “I hate the smell,” she says.
But when her 2-year-old Husky, Lucas, started having seizures, she was willing to try anything. A friend who works at a children’s hospital suggested CBD, telling Dubois about its use in medical studies to treat kids with seizures.
Dubois started doing research, and though she says her vet “doesn’t believe” in CBD, she ended up adding a CBD-infused olive oil to Lucas’s daily prescription of phenobarbital. (My vet notes that both CBD and phenobarbital are processed by the same enzymes, so be sure to check dosages.)
“He licks it off the spoon,” Dubois says, adding that he also likes CBD dog treats. “It reinforces the medication … It really is helping. Since he started using it, he hasn’t had a seizure.”
Franklin: for multiple symptoms.
When Franklin was diagnosed with cancer, owner Jason Palmer immediately sought help online.
“I found a pet cancer support group on Facebook, and everyone was saying they give CBD to their dogs,” he says. “Everyone who had advice, CBD was always part of it.”
Franklin, a 7-year-old French bulldog, is taking lots of life-saving medications, and Palmer has included CBD from the start. He’s optimistic that it’s making a difference, but says with Franklin on so many meds, it’s hard to tell.
“He seems to like the CBD treats,” Palmer says. “But I don’t know how much it’s helping him.”