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Medical Marijuana Emerging as Effective Treatment for Some Pets

SACRAMENTO -- Wiggles is one happy dog.

The 6-year-old pup is active, and loves to play at the dog park. But three years ago, his owner, Becky Davies, thought those days were over.

“When he was about three years old, I noticed he was in a lot of pain. He would wake up in the middle of the night crying when he had to move,” Becky told FOX40.

Wiggles was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. A vet prescribed him two medications for the pain. But when Wiggles accidentally ate an entire bottle of opiates, and was rushed to the emergency room, Becky decided to treat him with a more holistic option.

In the controversial case for cannabis, Wiggles is now a medical marijuana patient.

“I’ve been working here for almost eight years,” said Becky. “I’ve seen it help people. And I realized, most of the studies we have on cannabis for arthritis, or any type of ailment -- they’re done on animals.”

Becky is the assistant manager at Canna Care, a medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento. She says she’s seen a huge improvement in Wiggles after she began giving him a few drops of olive oil, mixed with pot.

“He’ll go to sleep and sleep just fine, when he used to wake up in the middle of the night crying” said Becky.

Becky only used CBD, or cannabidiol, to treat Wiggles. Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical, meaning Wiggles won’t get high using it. Hundreds of marijuana products marketed for animals are sold online, offering treatment for anxiety, pain relief, and even seizures.

Dr. Jyl Rubin, an Orangevale-based veterinarian and frequent guest on FOX40 News in the morning, is a big believer in CBD products for pets. She even has her own line of medications.

“I make a topical spray, which is great” Dr. Jyl told FOX40. “And it has some essential oils for pain control.”

Dr. Jyl says even a small amount of cannabis can benefit a dog in pain. But legally, she can’t recommend it to her patients Veterinarians are regulated by the federal government not the state. So while dogs like Wiggles may benefit from marijuana, it’s still an illegal substance under the DEA’s guidelines. That’s one reason why vets like Dr. Christina Bradbury, of Vista Veterinary Specialists, won’t recommend it.

“We’re not seeing people who are trying to treat their dog’s medical condition,” Dr. Bradbury explained. “Those dogs aren’t coming in with intoxication. It’s the ones who are really getting into the stash.”

Dr. Bradbury says, vets at her clinic are seeing several dogs every week who have eaten marijuana edibles. Often, they’ve consumed it in the form of a chocolate brownie, a potentially deadly combination.

“Chocolate is toxic for dogs as well, and it can also cause problems for dogs. They can both cause problems with the heart. That would be one of the things to worry about,” said Dr. Bradbury.

While CBD products may help treat pain in pets, Dr. Bradbury warns that pot with THC may actually make dogs experience more pain, not less. And for pet owners, caring for a dog overdosing on marijuana comes at a steep price. It could cost upwards of a thousand dollars for treatment.

As a cannabis technician, Becky is well aware of the risk pot poses, but she also sees the benefits. She says, CBD is making a difference for Wiggles every day.