Photo by Roxana Gonzalez / Shutterstock.
Bailey, a nervous basset and hound mix who lives in Shaw, knows a thing or two about wellness trends. She eats chicken with fresh apples and carrots, which her owner prepares for her every week. She goes kayaking. Sometimes she uses a white noise machine to help her fall asleep. Most recently, she took advantage of the reigning wellness craze: CBD oil.
Previously, the vet recommended Trazodone, a prescription sedative, to treat Bailey’s nervous shaking and tremors. But the side effects made their owner, Sandy Guillermo, uncomfortable. “You could tell she was high,” says Guillermo, an administrative assistant. “Completely drugged.” For the past year, Guillermo Bailey has fed a CBD chewable tablet along with multivitamins and turmeric tablets a day. As a result, she says Bailey is dramatically tempered. Even July 4th – which used to scare the dog – didn’t bother her too much.
Guillermo tried CBD herself, but the idea of giving it to Bailey came from the group she founded, DC Single Dog Parents. Other members had talked about using it on their pets. In fact, it has become one of the hottest topics among doting dog owners in Washington lately – which isn’t that surprising. Like veganism or intermittent fasting, CBD is something that can turn fans into converts. Never mind that there isn’t a lot of science to back it up yet.
Take Navy, a Loudoun County corgi whose raw food and travel tips are featured on the “dog-friendly lifestyle blog” Navy Corgi and whose Instagram account has nearly 80,000 followers. Your owner, Alex, says the blog’s most-read post isn’t about dog DNA testing or subscription toy boxes – it’s about Navy’s experience with CBD for separation anxiety. Since the post, Alex has taken advantage of sponsorship opportunities for CBD products for pets. Despite being offered up to $ 1,500 for a single post, Alex only accepted free treats (and no money) from the brand that she knows actually helped her dog. Before, when Navy was alone in a strange place like a hotel, she would scratch the walls and yap. Now if Alex gives her one of the goodies before she leaves, she says Navy just falls asleep.
Yet even with positive anecdotal evidence piling up, there is no conclusive evidence that CBD works in pets. After the 2018 Farm Bill eased restrictions on CBD – a hemp-derived compound that can be calming but unlike marijuana, it doesn’t get you high – the market was flooded with products for humans and animals. Dupont doggy style pet boutique began stocking CBD treats and balms last year, and owners Krista Heinz says they quickly became popular. Owner of District Hemp Botanicals Barbara Biddle says pet treats and oils are some of their bestsellers – one of their clients uses the oil on their rescue chicken’s injured leg.
Still, the few studies on CBD and pets end with “additional research is warranted”. The FDA has also not approved a single CBD product for animals. Hence DC Vet Wendy knight, Co-owner of CityPaws Animal Hospital, is unwilling to recommend it to patients. “The first oath we take is not to do harm,” says Knight. “We don’t have a guideline on how much to give, [for] what is appropriate. “
Even so, many dog owners use CBD to treat diseases far more serious than nervous nerves. Last year after that Bridget Passarelli discovered that her Chihuahua Lola was having seizures, she spent $ 2,000 on CAT scans, visits to neurologists, and medication. She stumbled upon CBD when she started researching seizure treatments for people. When Lola starts licking her lips and coughing – signs that a seizure is imminent – Passarelli feeds her four peanut butter-flavored drops. She credits the CBD for reducing the frequency of Lola’s seizures from weekly to monthly and reducing their severity.
Wheaten Terrier Mac also apparently had a U-turn after starting a CBD regimen. He was diagnosed with a tumor in his spleen at the age of 13 and his veterinarian at Falls Church Animal Hospital recommended CBD oil. Weeks ago, mac owners, Meredith Jacobs, had been lying on the floor begging him to eat fried chicken, and Mac hadn’t been able to walk around the block. But within 48 hours of taking CBD drops, the dog’s appetite and energy recovered, according to Jacobs.
Mac died in June, two years after his vet predicted he would survive two months. Even with no medical evidence that the drops prolonged your dog’s life, Jacobs says, “I definitely became the neighborhood spokeswoman for CBD.”
This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Washingtonian.
Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism and digital culture.