Monday, August 6, 2018

Marijuana for dogs

Our dog Ellie is a peculiar creature that looks as if her myriad genes were cultured in a blender. She has a broad, somewhat flat face that suggests there might have some pitbull blood in the mix but she is quite small, about twenty tightly packed pounds, and doesn't show much interest or aptitude for guard duty, except joining the other dogs in an occasional barking chorale. She is also noticeably bowlegged, which combined with her boxy girth and general clumsiness makes her an interesting sight when she runs and does a bunny hop rather than a doggy trot.

A purebred Mexican Muttsky
Apparently when she was a puppy someone thought she had some noble blood or potentially valuable pedigree, so they chopped off her tail and ears in the expectation of selling or breeding her as a purebred.

What a cruel waste. When that greedy fantasy didn't materialize, she was set loose and ended up at the gate of our ranch looking frightened, emaciated and indeed, barely alive. We adopted her and she promptly chunked out thanks to a manic appetite, a trait she retains to this day.

Roxy, another one of our dogs, suffered similar mutilation at the hands of someone who saw her as a breedable Rottweiler, Doberman or God knows what. Today she's a large mixed-breed dog missing her ears and tail. With her tail missing, she signals excitement by wiggling her rear end instead. 

About a year after we adopted Ellie we noticed she had what seemed like epileptic fits. When running or overly excited she'd keel over on her side, unable to walk, breathing rapidly, her eyes wide open as in a trance. 

We've taken her to the vet a couple of times but he said there's really nothing to be done. Epilepsy in humans is a neurological disorder that would be difficult and expensive to diagnose in a dog. Besides, there isn't any specific treatment, he said. We should just put Ellie on a cushion when she has a fit, and wait for it to pass. 

A friend in San Antonio, though, suggested we try marijuana compounds that are used to treat anxious or hyperactive dogs, and in some cases epilepsy. I rolled my eyes, but Stew promptly went online to explore such miracle cure. 

Treating dogs with some sort of marijuana derivatives is apparently quite mainstream: The market for such concoctions doubled between 2008 and 2014. But what is sold for pet relief is CBD, an extract from marijuana different from THC, the cannabis component that gets people high and presumably could send your dog into orbit too. So even if CBD doesn't cure anything there's no need to worry Fido will get stoned or develop a sudden craving for pepperoni pizza. 

Dog Potion #9
Stew found PetRelief, a product made in River Falls, Wisc. and available through Amazon.com for $24.96 for a one-ounce spray bottle. If the dogs pictured on the website are any indication, the stuff is dynamite because they all look blissful, borderline dopey. 

The ingredients however, are a mystery: The label reads, "Proprietary blend of all natural ingredients. Essential oils." It is applied by spraying some on your hands and rubbing it on the dog behind the ears and on the belly, twice a day.  

Go ahead. Laugh, snark or chuckle. Make fun of Ellie and Stew—except that the stuff seems to work. We've been using it for three weeks and she has been fit-free and mellower than usual. Right now, at two o'clock in the afternoon, she is sleeping soundly on her bed in the living room—though probably dreaming about a large pizza. 
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