It all started with her parent’s dog, Toby. The 140 pound Akita and Great Dane mix had been adopted as a puppy and quickly developed stomach issues ranging from diarrhea to vomiting. After many tests, the conclusion was that Toby suffered from a weak stomach and it was recommend that the dog be given Pepcid every day.
“We were at our wit’s end,” said Jordan Roberts of Saugus. “You don’t want to see a dog suffer like that. It was becoming a quality of life issue.”
Roberts thought there had to be a better way. She decided to switch Toby’s diet and after doing some research with her veterinarian, Roberts came across a new product called Canna-Pet.
Launched in 2013, Canna-Pet was the first company to offer capsules, oil, biscuits, and treats that include cannabidiol and other cannabinoids, or CBDs, derived from enriched oil extracts of cannabis.
Canna-Pet products are available for cats, dogs, and horses. The company also offers a human product called Assisi Botanicals. Prices start at $30 and range up to $80.
“My vet was like, nothing else is working, let’s give it a shot,” Roberts recalled.
While she cooks with hemp seed to help with her own symptoms of Chrohn’s disease, Roberts was still a little hesitant.
“I’ve heard THC can be dangerous for pets,” she said.
While headlines have called CBDs “pot for pets,” it’s actually quite different than medical marijuana use for humans, as Canna-Pet spokesperson Samantha Wormser illustrated.
“Our products are made from industrial hemp, which has such low levels of THC. and the process is strictly controlled. It doesn’t have psychoactive or side effects. Pets are not getting high off of this,” she said.
Instead, according to “Cannabis and CBD Science for Dogs” by Caroline Coile, Ph.D, CBDs work because they “fit into the body’s cannabinoid receptor sites, which regulate other neurotransmitters, as well as a host of body systems, especially the immune systems.”
Roberts started Toby on a quarter percent of the suggested dosage, slowly working up to the recommended amount.
Three years later, Toby very rarely has bouts of diarrhea or vomiting.
“It’s really done amazing things for him and I haven’t witnessed any side effects,” Roberts said.
She was so impressed that she added Canna-Pet to the diet of her own dogs: Cole and Wyatt, two pit mixes who also suffer from weak stomachs, and Sadie, a German Shepherd whose hips “were starting to go.”
So far, everyone has benefitted, even a hospice foster with advanced cancer dog named Foxy, whom Roberts gave the product to help with pain and anxiety.
“I’m extremely comfortable using it. I just don’t see any risk after the number of dogs I’ve used it on. I feel it’s safe,” Roberts said.
Consumers like Roberts are increasingly searching for naturally derived products to help with their pet’s health issues.
According to Bloomberg.com, recent data from cannabis industry analytics firm MJ Freeway indicate that CBD pet products are the newest trend in a half billion dollar pet supplements market and will continue to boom with anticipated sales growth of more than $150 million over the near four years.
Wormser is not surprised about the increasing success of the CBD market.
“Prescription drugs can have negative effects long term. This is a more holistic approach, an organic option. We’re concerned about what we’re putting into our own bodies and now, people are caring more about what they’re putting into their pets,” Wormser said.
Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets in Valencia, has had several customers ask about CBDs over the last year. She has recommended it for senior pets with arthritis or those with anxiety.
“Pets can benefits from the medicinal effects of cannabis,” she said. “I believe it has a place in veterinary medicine, if used properly.”