What You Need To Know About Pot For Pets

Pot For Pets
What You Need To Know About Pot For Pets
CBD, one of the main ingredients in cannabis, shows tremendous promise as a natural pain relief remedy for dogs. Cue the controversy.

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Don't be surprised if you notice a certain calm settling over the dog park on your next visits.

Suddenly, that holy terror terrier is feeling much better about himself. Fido has found his chill.

That could be because cannabis-based products are now flooding the canine market.

These canine products feature cannabidiol or CBD, one of the two main ingredients found in cannabis. The other main ingredient in cannabis, THC, the substance that makes human users high, is not included in these pet products. CBD is extracted from hemp rather than marijuana plants and has some of the same benefits, such as pain relief, without the psychotropic element.

Because of its medicinal value, Dr. Stephen Katz, a New York City veterinarian based in the Bronx, predicts CBD will become the new Aspirin of the 21st century.

Roughly three years ago, he introduced it in a line of pet products called Therabis.

Among its many benefits, Katz says CBD works as an effective anti-inflammatory. It also seems to relax dogs. “I'm not talking about knocking them out, but it does take away a certain edge especially when they are uncomfortable.”

Although there is anecdotal evidence that CBD helps to control ailments like epileptic seizures, Katz said, “We are currently at the embryonic stage of looking at the medicinal value of CBD.”

He decries the reluctance of organizations like the American Animal Hospital Association to embrace CBD, which he says has such clear benefits for man and beast.

The association refused to allow him to set up a booth at its last national convention. “I was appalled,” he said.

Because of its murky status, Katz said there have been virtually no clinical trials to determine standardized doses for different conditions in dogs. He hopes that will change.

As Katz notes, this is largely because CBD, like most medicinal marijuana products, sits in a legal grey zone. “Don't think that I don't feel every day that I am dancing on the razor's edge.” Yet he predicts that once it becomes fully legal, “the demand for it is not going to be met by the supply for five years.”

CBD comes in a variety of forms. While Therabis comes in powder that is sprinkled on food, a U.S.-based outfit called The Green Pet Shop is selling a CBD gel pen that allows for absorption through the skin for $40. Treatibles CBD-infused dog treats deliver the benefits of CBD in two treat varieties, pumpkin, and blueberry. Pet Releaf, a Colorado-based company, offers two potencies of ingestible whole hemp plant oil retailing at $40–$80 as well as CBD dog treats.

Pet Releaf might never have been started except for a Collie mix named Mattie that won the hearts of Stephen Smith and his family.

As she aged, Mattie developed some heart-breaking problems. She started limping. She could only walk on soft grass.

The family vet said the only treatment available was heavy opiates and steroid anti-inflammatories, which only masked the symptoms while destroying Mattie's liver.

“We just said there had to be a better way,” said Smith, the president and co-founder of Pet Releaf.

That's when the family decided to move from Florida to the Denver area to set up a line of CBD-based products.

Smith maintains the products are good for all dogs because CBD provides a massive boost to the immune system.

However, determining the right dose can involve trial and error. So how do you know when your dog has had enough? “You have to be interacting and observing and watching,” said Smith.

A dog in pain will show symptoms like repeatedly licking an affected area, loss of appetite or being unwilling to walk.

When those symptoms disappear, you know the treatment is working.

CBD products can be sold in all states in the U.S. provided it is derived from imported industrial hemp which assures a THC content below the legally allowed level of .03 per cent. 

In Canada, CBD falls under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and hence cannot be freely distributed, but that doesn't mean it isn't available. Smith and Katz have both filled orders from Canada through internet sales although Katz has not yet found a Canadian distributor.

Canadian companies like B.C.-based True Leaf Medicine International are ready to bolt out the gate when the new Trudeau government eases restrictions on marijuana use.

With former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt as the company’s chairman, True Leaf was one of the first to apply to the federal government for a medical marijuana license.

Still awaiting approval, the company decided last year to launch a line of hemp-based soft chew supplements for pets. However, company CEO Darcy Bomford said they are not a CBD product, which he said would not be allowed. 

Once the legal fog has cleared, the company’s ultimate goal is to develop products with CBD for dogs. “It has always been my goal to create a natural medicine for dogs and I actually believe that the answer lies in the cannabis plant,” said Bomford.

Alas, poor Mattie passed on to those greener pastures in the sky four years ago this summer. “It had to be the hardest four or five years of our lives,” said Smith.

Losing a pet is always hard. That's why the search for the best healing balm continues and why there’s such passion and excitement around CBD for dogs.

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