An Experiment: Does CBD Work on Dogs?
Peanut is a lightweight, literally and figuratively.
My little four-year-old Shih Tzu weighs eight and a half pounds after her evening bowl of lamb and rice stew, and the first time she licked a dropper of CBD oil she spent a full afternoon on the couch with a goofy smile binge watching Rick and Morty.
Okay, maybe I controlled the TV remote, but the combination of CBD and interdimensional grandpa/grandson antics still kept her from shaking uncontrollably due to her debilitating back problem.
In 2018, dogs all over the country are getting stoned, on doctor’s orders. There’s a special place in an eternal dog pound for owners that blow smoke in their animals’ faces, but this is different. CBD oil, processed from industrial-grade hemp with less than .3% THC, won’t get you high, but it does have plenty of other medicinal applications. One of them, as it happens, is relieving anxiety and pain in dogs named Peanut.
For about two years, P has had an on-and-off back problem. MRIs are unreasonably expensive and X-rays typically aren’t conclusive, so the rough diagnosis is some sort of back disc tweak. I’ve treated her with a mix of crate rest, muscle relaxers, joint supplements, even acupuncture, and a general lack of outdoor adventuring. She’d have a few good months, seemingly healed, then relapse and spend weeks shaking feverishly from pain.
I hadn’t heard of CBD oil use in dogs until I saw a sign in my vet’s lobby. We live in Texas, a place where you’re allowed to openly carry an assault rifle but not a joint, so it surprised me to find out it’s totally legal (hemp-derived oil is actually legal in every state). They’d been selling it for about eight months, and my vet had nothing but good things to say.
“There’s no studies I’m aware of on the Vet Med end of things, but I have anecdotally really been happy with the effect. There have been some cases where people did not see a difference, but the majority have seen positive effects,” says Dr. Helen Rudnick of Austin Urban Vet.
The CBD I bought is made by WAAYB Organics and cost about $75 for a bottle. Based on Peanut’s slender figure, the dosage is incredibly low and one bottle seems like it will last 100 dog years. It’s actually the same exact product they sell to humans, except with a cute paw print on the bottle.
The first time she took it her face contorted into the same type of twisted grin I get when jamming on my modular synthesizer, but on subsequent doses she’s acted relatively normal, by which I mean she lays on the bathroom floor all afternoon. Overall she hasn’t seemed at all in pain and acts a little perkier than usual (when she’s not sleeping). As a bonus, I haven’t had to shell out thousands of dollars on back surgery.
“In general it has been really wonderful to have an alternative option when we have cases where we aren’t getting the response we want with current options,” says Dr. Helen. “Sometimes we are able to avoid the prescription medications altogether.”
You might expect CBD oil to be a hard sell with more conservative vets, but Waayb says the industry has largely embraced the alternative treatment.
“There hasn’t been a big pushback,” says Victor Trasoff-Jilg, COO of WAAYB. “Mainly some vets just aren’t familiar with CBD or are inundated with different companies and have a hard time validating quality. Other vets are still concerned more with legality since a lot of them have controlled substances licenses from the DEA.”
In addition to Dr. Rudnick’s clinical observations, WAAYB cited four studies that point to benefits for stopping convulsions, inflammatory disorders, allergic skin diseases, and obesity. And since animals and humans both have endocannabinoid systems, studies go both ways.
As far as Peanut’s personal health is concerned, I’m still hitting her with a full-on assault of non-surgical treatments (aka the cheapskate method), so it’s hard to say that CBD oil made the definitive difference. But anecdotally, it was the last thing I added to her current cocktail of acupuncture and joint supplements and seemed to be what pushed her over the edge back into tail-wagging territory. So for pet owners who’ve tried everything short of voodoo to improve their dogs’ health, it’s at least worth a shot. And one out of one Peanuts agree.