Anecdotes testifying that the cannabidiol (CBD) present in cannabis is good for dogs abound. One is that of Pumpkin, the 15-year-old Jack Russell terrier owned by Steven Siegel of Florida.
Pumpkin fell ill and was rushed to a vet who diagnosed kidney failure. Siegel swore, “I gave her every bit of medicine science could give to us.” And none of it did any good: Pumpkin was permanently bloated and appeared uncomfortable to the extent that her vet suggested she be put down.
Cannabis to the rescue!
Research by Siegel, who owns five dogs, showed him that CBD was good for dogs. This was not a natural course: “I’m a traditional, old-fashioned guy; it took me years to even consider going to a chiropractor. But either I tried this or the dog would die, and I’d always wonder, ‘What if?’”
Siegel gave Pumpkin treats containing CBD which were sold by Green Garden Gold. Pumpkin’s bloating subsided and she had more energy. Four weeks later, she had travelled from death’s door back to normality.
Why it happens
Some of the chemicals in cannabis are cannabinoids, which stimulate receptors in the bodies of humans – and dogs. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one which makes you stoned. CBD doesn’t get you stoned but does possess healing properties. Medicinal marijuana comes in many forms, including oils, pills, tinctures, treats and supplements, and the ones for canines contain CBD but minimal THC, which is dangerous to dogs, more so than for any other animal due to the density of THC receptors in their brains. CBD is effective in treating anxiety, appetite loss, heart murmurs, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, itching, pain and tumours.
THC is most assuredly not good for dogs, so it’s a bad idea to give a dog a joint. “You should never give your dog THC. Their bodies just can’t handle certain compounds. Chocolate will make them sick, and the same thing occurs with THC,” cautioned Alex Berezow, senior fellow of biomedical science at the American Council on Science and Health. Raisins are bad, too.
Calls to the Pet Poison Helpline concerning marijuana intoxication rocketed fourfold from 2012 to 2015, as more US states legalised the drug. Jess Trimble, a vet in San Francisco, speaks of dogs which have consumed cannabis in the form of marijuana edibles or the dog ends if you’ll pardon the expression, of joints on the pavement and are struck by diarrhoea, loss of balance, nausea or sensitivity to noise. “A high dose can cause coma,” she adds. There have even been deaths.
Alison Attel is the CEO and co-founder of Treatwell, which produces high quality, non-psychoactive medicaments for both humans and animals and insists that just a little THC is good for dogs, for instance drawing out tumours on a dog’s skin.
Becky Davis, whose six-year-old dog, Wiggles, was also saved by CBD, points out that most studies into the medical effects of cannabis are conducted on animals. In the States, however, vets are controlled by the federal government rather than the states, which have legalised cannabis in 30 cases, so medical marijuana can’t be recommended. The way around it is to give educational information instead of medical advice.