In the United Kingdom, November 5 is an unpleasant annual ritual for dog lovers obliged to worry about a beloved pet who is panicked by fireworks. People speak of canine companion animals that freak out and scarper if outside and cower beneath a bed if indoors. The remedy for this is cannabidiol (CBD), the extract of cannabis that has health benefits but doesn’t make you high, unlike tetrahydrocannbinol (THC), which has health benefits but gets you stoned.
You want cannabis for your dog
In those US states where marijuana is permissible, a burgeoning number of companies is marketing CBD for noise anxiety and other conditions in pets, part of the $3.2bn-a-year pet-wellness market. Therabis, based in Denver, makes a point of advertising one CBD supplement as an aid that allows dogs to survive July 4 – Independence Day, which is to our American cousins equivalent to Guy Fawkes Night in terms of firework consumption. The two weeks before and after this date are when animal shelters see a surge in stray dogs and cats.
But it wasn’t always like this
This is a change from the past, when cannabis enjoyed an adverse reputation amongst vets who had witnessed so many cases of dogs suffering after gobbling their owner’s stash: in large quantities, THC can cause disorientation, loss of bladder control, vomiting and wobbliness in dogs.
So you need a little THC
CBD for dogs should be accompanied by the teeniest amount of THC. With VETCBD oil, the ratio is 20:1. Tim Shu, who founded the company and is a vet of seven years’ standing, arrived at this proportion while attempting to find something for his own elderly hound, Tye, who is part pit bull and afflicted by firework anxiety and arthritis but can’t stand the side-effects of conventional medications. Shu can now walk Tye outside on July 4: ?It’s a night-and-day difference.?
Don’t trust anecdotes too much
Anecdotes are not to be trusted according to Brennen McKenzie, a Californian vet who is on the board of the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association and writes a blog. He comments that there has been almost no research into pets and cannabis due to the drug’s illegality and recalls one clinical trial where some arthritic dogs received a pain reliever and some received a placebo: over half the owners whose dogs got the placebo reported a considerable improvement in their pets’ symptoms. But even he acknowledges that cannabis should be tried after exhausting every other possibility if a dog is unduly disturbed by fireworks.
The usual treatments are to be avoided
When dogs are excessively distressed by fireworks, the usual treatments are sedatives and anti-depressants, which have profound side effects. Behavioural therapies such as customarily playing white noise or classical music and instructing owners to be calm in the face of an anxious pet are less effective when the anxiety is severe.
What about cats?
While cats are highly sensitive to any chemicals, they do benefit from CBD, with examples provided here (?We were preparing for euthanasia ?).