It won’t make your dog giggle and eat everything in the house – it’s not a Cheech and Chong kind of cannabinoid we’re talking about.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, may help treat joint and muscle pain, anxiety, seizures, cancer side effects and behavior issues in both pets and their owners. There are CBD-infused treats, tablets and tinctures.
Florida is one of 46 states where CBD is legal, and it’s been popping up in health food stores and pet stores, touted as a natural and effective method for, as an example, relaxing a dog who has separation anxiety.
So how does it work?
CBD is derived from the cannabis plant as a compound, but does not cause feelings of euphoria caused by the most active ingredient in cannabis, THC.
The two affect different receptors in the brain, said Keys Animal Hospital owner Dr. Mike Dunn.
Humans and animals have an endocannabinoid system which receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. In turn, the properties of CBD can help regulate sleep, immune-system responses and pain.
It is not psychoactive and does not change the state of mind of the pet or person using it.
“It’s something that I’m recommending more and more. We’ve been using it as partial treatment for cats and dogs, and it’s been really good for aggression problems in male cats in particular,” Dunn said.
Partial treatment means CBD oil combined with medicine.
“I might prescribe amitriptyline for cats that are peeing where they’re not supposed to or fighting with their siblings, then add some CBD oil with that,” he said, adding that a benefit of CBD oil is that it does not sedate the animal or hurt its kidneys or liver in the long run.
Dunn said he does not have a favorite brand, but he’s been sending pet owners to Food For Thought in Marathon, where CBD oil is sold in different strengths for both pets and humans under the True brand name.
True CBD oil comes in dosages of 250 milligrams all the way up to 2,200 milligrams.
“My baseline is 250 milligrams per 1 ML,” Dunn said.
In simpler terms, cats can receive three or four drops a day of CBD oil, or 10 to 15 drops a day for a larger dog with anxiety.
“There are different strengths and we’re kind of playing around with that, starting with a low dosage and upping it over time,” he said.
“Catnip will make your cat higher than CBD will,” said Food For Thought employee Cassandra Dickson.
The health food store is in the Gulfside Village Plaza, MM 50 bayside.
When Hurricane Irma was approaching the Florida Keys in September, Keys Kritters pet store owner Robby Majeska opened the three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment above the Key Largo store to neighbors and friends.
Sixteen people brought seven dogs.
“There were pit bulls and a German shepherd, and let me you, it was loud,” Majeska said. “I gave them some Canni Bits (CBD-infused dog treats), and for two days, those dogs were nice and calm.”
Canni Bits are what Majeska calls entry-level and low-dose, around 30 milligrams. The treats take effect within an hour, lasting from eight to 10 hours.
Keys Kritters is at MM 101 bayside, 100636 Overseas Highway, in Key Largo.