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Animal Health

Should Your Dog Try Cannabis?

Mine did, and it helped comfort him on his journey into that great dog park in the sky.

My first dog was Abbey, a dumb-as-rocks black lab who was semi-patient with my desire to be a vet and practice medicine on her. Ten-year-old me would splint her leg with a ruler and proudly declare her cured of an imaginary broken bone. Turns out, Abbey wouldn’t be my last experiment with veterinary care. The medical marijuana movement emboldened me to try again, and I’m glad for that, because my results are improving.

I adopted dog #2, Santiago Domingo, when I was jobless, single, and hungry for adventure. I needed a best friend who made me brave enough to explore Wyoming’s cougar-ridden backcountry sans my employed friends. So I walked into the local animal adoption center and came out with a foster pup: a gangly black-and-tan shepherd mix with alarmingly big feet and an old soul. I fostered him for a week, telling myself the adoption fee was too much for someone without a paycheck.

That is until the morning we returned to the center and an employee said, “Oh good. He’s back. A family wants to adopt him today.”

But he’s already mine, I said.

I walked out the door 300 bucks in the hole, but with a boon companion. I could laugh at mountain lions now, and Santiago (aka Santos) would laugh with me.

He was my first “I choose you” family member. We were inseparable. He made me braver than I am. I taught him how to run, making him bound up and down next to me. Then after he chased his first moose, I taught him how to heel. He spent the first two years of his life off leash, running next to my bicycle, waiting for me outside of grocery stores and bars. He was perfect, even when he tried to eat my mattress. 

OK, he did have his quirks. He was allergic to gluten and chicken and every pollen under the sun. He’d roll in the grass and then come inside and scratch for an hour until I told him to knock it off—momma’s trying to sleep. And he did!

In his old age, he slowed down and his allergies sped up. Shampoo and conditioners kind of worked. Salmon oil helped for a bit. But nothing stuck. He scratched and he creaked. But then the cannabis revolution happened. So I tried a new trick with my old dog: Naked Leaf’s Pet CBD Oil, hoping a few drops of natural pain-relieving cannabinoids would ease his aches and get him back on the trail with me.

See Also Is it Okay to Give CBD to Cats and Dogs? 

And for a time it did: Santos picked up the pace on jaunts around the neighborhood and, in one shocking display of renewed vigor, even dashed after a neighborhood bunny. (The bunny survived.) The verdict was less definitive when it came to his allergies. He slept harder, with less nighttime scratching, but during the day, he was back at it with the hind leg. 

But that great dog park in the sky comes for all pups, and it came suddenly and unexpectedly for him. One night, Santos laid down in the living room and refused to walk upstairs to the bedroom. Nothing did the trick. CBD. Treats. Kisses. The next day, the veterinarian diagnosed him with secondary pulmonary adenocarcinoma—a disease that had lurked inside his body for months unbeknownst to us or our vet. I finally knew the real reason he slowed down: that villainous C. 

The vet guessed Santos had two days left; he lasted four. I’d like to think it was some combination of baby food, cuddles, CBD oil, and visits to his top-favorite jaunts. We’d sit on the front porch and I’d spoon-feed him the good stuff: kibble drenched in baby food, infused with CBD and tears. I’d like to think all that sweet loving eased his pain at the end. And maybe it did—in those final days, his ears still perked up at every bunny that dared to trespass into our yard, and that says a lot. 

Now if only my love potion cured cancer. But a wannabe vet can’t win every battle, can she?