COLORADO SPRINGS – To what extent would you go to treat your pet if it were ill or in pain? A growing number of people in Colorado are turning to marijuana-infused products to make their pets feel better. Some say it has even cured them.
A study released in July by researchers at Colorado State University found extremely positive results in the use of cannabis extract in treatment of epilepsy in dogs. In the study, the dogs treated with CBD saw an 89 percent reduction in epileptic seizures.
One local dog owner takes it further — she says marijuana extracts have saved her dog’s life. 6-year-old Khloe was given six months to live. That was six months ago. “In February, Khloe was diagnosed with a malignant tongue tumor,” said Khloe’s owner, Shawna Kohl of Colorado Springs. “While she was in surgery, the vet called us and said, ‘There’s nothing we can do. We’re going to have to remove probably half of her tongue.'”
Kohl says she was at the end of her rope when vets said Khloe had no hope. Running out of hope and running out of money to pay for surgery or chemotherapy, Shawna said, “My fiance happened to be in Denver that day and stopped in a recreational shop and said, ‘We’re going to fight this with CBD and THC.”
“We even have some people who are going for their dogs and are like, ‘Oh, no, not for me. Not for me, only for the dog,” said Hunter Lamoreaux, wholesale manager for Discover CBD at 3438 North Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs. Lamoreaux sees customers like Shawna every day. He says 20 percent, or one in every five customers coming into his store is there for their pets. It offers CBD-infused dog treats and tinctures which are THC-free, so there is none of the chemical from marijuana that causes a high. “Arthritis, hip dysplasia especially are our two most common reasons people are coming in here for our pets,” Lamoreaux said.
Lamoreaux says many of his customers arrive after consulting with their veterinarian, but not by prescription. “It’s not something we’re able to prescribe, but certainly we’re here to discuss the latest research and what the information is what we know on it,” said Dr. Gabriella Lester, a veterinarian at Dublin Animal Hospital in Colorado Springs. She says questions about marijuana-derived treatments for dogs have exploded since legalization, but at the Federal level cannabis and its derivatives are still illegal, so vets are barred from recommending it as a treatment. “It would be a nice option to have if it is something that was proven to be effective and safe for pets,” Lester said.
“As of July, we’re not allowed to recommend any of our cannabis products for anything other than what’s on the packaging,” said Daniel Taylor with Marisol Therapeutics and Gardens in Pueblo West, a recreational and medical marijuana dispensary. Colorado’s pot laws don’t give dispensaries any leeway. At Marisol, they, too, get questions about pot for pets, but their hands are tied. “I have hope for acceptance of other uses of the product, as far as with pets or animals, especially with CBD products,” Taylor said.
Nowadays, Khloe is back to her old self. Comparison videos show her improvement since taking the tinctures. Her tongue tumor has shrunk and her ability to eat, drink, and gnaw on a bone have turned completely around. “I’ve got my girl back,” Kohl said. In Khloe’s case, Kohl includes a THC tincture, a purely voluntary and experimental treatment which is not veterinarian-recommended. In fact, dogs are much more susceptible to THC’s negative effects and can die from ingesting too much. “The most common signs are incoordination,” Dr. Lester said. “A lot of pets will urinate very frequently and they may have a startle response.”
Kohl admits, early on, they might have overdone it on the THC with Khloe, but after following recommended dosages and gradually increasing amounts, Khloe is on the mend without any surgery or prescriptions. “I believe that the combination that we did with the CBD and the THC is what saved Khloe’s life,” Kohl said.
The cost compared to veterinarian-recommended alternatives, including euthanasia, is fractional. “We spend about $40 to $60 a month,” Kohl said.
“What do most people do when that arthritis starts getting real bad or the hip dysplasia is real bad,” Lamoreaux asked. “You go and get your pet put down, which is horrible. So CBD, we’ve found, is just a way to extend that quality of life just a couple of years.”
“Literally, that small amount of money that we are spending per month to maintain it is something that I will do forever,” Kohl said. She says she began to see improvements in Khloe about 45 days after first giving her her first tincture treatments.
Even though veterinarians can’t prescribe or recommend any marijuana-infused product, it is still recommended that per owners discuss it with them if they are considering it, in order to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks.