WATCH: Some Vancouver Island pet owners are turning to cannabis-based products to help treat their pets. It’s part of a growing trend but veterinarians warn of the dangers. Isabelle Raghem reports.
A few times a week, twice a day at the most, Rebecca Hass gives her 14-year-old dog gets a couple drops of cannabis based oil.
“He always licks in case any has fallen, he likes it so much.”
Hass says her dog Hudson’s anxiety started getting worse about two years ago. It came to the point where his bizarre behavior and distress became unbearable for the family.
“It was very odd to have a dog that would lick the walls and bark at walls and panting, and pacing around in circles. A classic sign of anxiety,”says Hass.
Hass says the family was left looking for answers after numerous veterinarians confirmed nothing appeared physically wrong with the aging dog.
“Everyone with a dog knows it’s member of your family. We love him through good and bad but I start to wonder what’s his quality of life? But I don’t want to end his life too soon if there’s something I can do.”
Despite natural treatments, even arthritis shots, Hudson’s discomfort didn’t seem to go away.
“The dog is whining in the evening that is causing the family a lot of distress. It’s like a crying baby in your house. You want to help the baby but the baby can’t talk.”
That’s when Hass read about hemp based oil, also known as CBD (cannabidiol). The product is sold in dispensaries and doesn’t contain THC, the main ingredient known for marijuana’s psychoactive effects.
“It gave him all kind of peace. He very seldom whines anymore, he very seldom yips anymore.”
Veterinarian at City Pets Animal Clinic in Victoria, Dr. Kelli Mulley says she’s noticed a growing interest in the last year.
“I really didn’t get questions before and lately I probably get a few a month.”
Dr. Mulley warns owners there is currently no evidence to prove marijuana is safe for pets — with or without THC.
“We have to remember that cats and dogs are not small people. There’s some preliminary research that has been done at this point, but it’s not enough for us to make recommendations or to really have the understanding to responsibly prescribe it.”
Hass says she too would like to see more research done on the effects of cannabis on pets.
“I feel like we’re in a strange place where we have a market that could really benefit from it, we could really help our pets [but] we’re lacking the people willing to put the money forward to do the testing.”
While Hass says she knows this may not be a good solution for everyone, she’s just happy to give Hudson his life back.