When Nigel, an eight-year-old long-haired dachshund – a breed with known back and joint issues – began to have issues moving, his owner Zoë Carpenter needed to find a way to help.
“We were seeing a real reduction in his mobility, he really couldn’t move comfortably without yelping,” says Carpenter.
The initial health scare turned out to be a false alarm but lead to the realization that Nigel has substantial amounts of muscle inflammation causing spasms and intense pain. As a way to treat Nigel’s inflammation and pain Carpenter began giving him Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound, meaning it won’t get you high but has other healing effects.
“What we noticed [after taking the CBD oil] was – oh my God, he’s just perfect,” laughed Carpenter.
Carpenter, with a background in holistic animal medicine, says she had difficulties accepting the traditional medicine based path and began looking for something more holistic to address the underlying cause of Nigel’s pain. Carpenter landed on CBD oil, calling it the most natural choice for her to treat the inflammation in Nigel’s body. Before long he made a “full recovery” and has been living pain free since. Carpenter admits there is some value in pharmaceutical drugs but says that can’t be the only option.
“I think it’s really important that we understand there is a time and place where acute medication is needed but natural and holistic approaches may keep us from needing those pharmaceuticals as much,” says Carpenter.
According to Stacey Thomas, deputy registrar for the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia, when marijuana was legalized last October all other components of the plants were moved to the prescription drug list – including CBD – meaning it should only be available through a prescription. She says while there aren’t many options for humans seeking CBD oil legally, there are even fewer options for pet owners seeking CBD oil legally and even less for CBD dog treats, as edibles are still not legal in Canada.
“That being said the products are out there and the public still has access to them,” says Thomas. “But a veterinarian isn’t able to prescribe or recommend or sell things that are not Health Canada approved.”
New research on CBD oil has suggested an increase in pain mitigation, sleep, better memory and other beneficial effect when taken by humans but not much research exists surrounding the effects CBD has on our four-legged friends. As for Nigel, Carpenter says she has a brand new dog with no muscle or inflammation pain and she credits CBD oil for that change. According to Carpenter the bigger issue is the improper disposal of roaches (remnants of a marijuana cigarette) that get eaten or picked up off the ground leading to THC toxicity poisoning – the main active ingredient in cannabis which is toxic for dogs, and can be fatal in some cases.
“It’s like dogs and chocolate,” says Carpenter. “I know dogs who have eaten a pound of chocolate and been fine and I know dogs who have eaten a sliver of chocolate and been on death’s door.”
Thomas cautions pet owners saying that without government regulation there is no way to really know what’s going into the product but recommends chatting with your own veterinarian to discuss alternatives to pharmaceuticals.
Carpenter’s advice to pet owners is do your research, understand the dosing and be confident.
“I’m not a scientist but I’ve done a lot of reading and research – I wouldn’t be giving my dog anything I wasn’t confident in,” says Carpenter.
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