Carrie Reeves has three pets that have always been anxious, but it wasn’t until they started dealing with age-related illnesses that she realized she could treat their issues the same way she treats her own — with medicinal cannabis.
When she brought home two Maine Coon kittens she expected them to be docile, the way Maine Coon cats usually are. These two kittens named Oliver and Dinah were not — they were skittish and standoffish. Her dog, Fiona, had always been antsy too, but that came as less of a surprise since vizslas are a notoriously anxious breed.
But as all three of the animals aged, Reeves had to deal with their other health issues too.
Having personally self-medicated with marijuana since September 2016, she decided to see if the same treatments could help her pets. She discovered VETCBD — an olive-based cannabis oil and one of a number of new products developed exclusively for animals — stocked at her local dispensary.
Dogs, cats and other domesticated animals suffer from many of the same ailments their owners do, including arthritis, seizures, anxiety, cancer and more. And like their owners, many pets react negatively to traditionally prescribed pharmaceuticals.
Fortunately, CBD provides an alternative with few nasty side effects, and it’s gaining traction in the veterinary world.
In July 2014, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association recognized marijuana’s potential to “improve the quality of life for many patients.”
VETCBD founder and former practicing veterinarian, Dr. Tim Shu, began to create his own cannabis products in 2013 after researching the benefits of CBD in scientific studies.
“As veterinarians, we’re advocates for pets,” Dr. Shu said. “We are supposed to be out for their best interests.”
Fortunately, cannabis has decades of research proving its medical benefits, much of which, Dr. Shu points out, has been conducted on animals. In various medical studies, marijuana has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritis-stricken rats, repair heart function in rabbits and have anticonvulsant effects on mice.
As the market for cannabis pet meds grows, there could be as many medicated options for animals as there are for humans. It already seems to be moving in that direction.
Oakland-based edible company, Auntie Dolores, sells bone-shaped “Treatibles,” while Canna-Pet offers biscuits, capsules, and tinctures for dogs, cats and even horses. VETCBD comes exclusively in liquid form, and doses are formulated by body weight, allowing pet owners to adjust as needed.
“Dosing is very specific,” Dr. Shu said. “Your doctor is always going to give you a dosing guide whenever they prescribe medication. That’s the same thing in the vet world.”
Dr. Shu and his team connect directly with patients by hosting demos and and handing out samples at dispensaries. Like Reeves, many of Dr. Shu’s clients have used medicinal cannabis themselves. Others are skeptical but desperate.
Then they see the results.
Within a few days of dosing her pets, Reeves noticed a positive change. Not only did it ease their symptoms, but it also improved their skin and coats.
Reeves now doses Fiona and the cats regularly. Fiona loves her new medicine so much she once devoured an entire bottle’s worth when Reeves wasn’t looking.
Sadly, a vet recently found a number of masses in Fiona’s body. Though her dog’s prognosis isn’t clear, Reeves is sure she’ll continue to treat her with CBD.
“Just think of what you would do for yourself,” Reeves said. “If you would do anything for yourself, allow that to be what allows you to try something new and different for your pet.”
Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.