Pot for Pooches

Cannabis is going to the dogs — or, in Liz Hughston’s case, three particular dogs.

A registered emergency veterinary technician working in San Jose, Hughston says she first became aware that cannabidiol (CBD) could be used to treat canines while she was researching ways to help Augie, her smallest pup, cope with a fear of fireworks.

“The first Fourth of July after we got him, he was about a year old. He had a major meltdown freakout,” Hughston recalls. “The following year, we used the traditional drugs — sedatives and anti-anxiety medications you get from your veterinarian — but it didn’t help him. He just ran around like a drunk little jerk at a bar.”

Then Hughston discovered Treatibles, a CBD-infused brand of dog biscuits. She was already familiar with Auntie Dolores, the company’s human brand of gourmet cannabis edibles. When the Fourth of July came around again, she tried Treatibles on her spooked pooch. She found that Augie did not lose his appetite as he had during previous episodes and that he was happy to curl up next to Hughston and her husband on the couch while the fireworks raged on.

“I just kept giving him a couple of treats throughout the evening. Augie was mellow, but not sleepy or stoned. He showed no signs of toxicity because there’s no THC in the treats. The fireworks simply didn’t bother him like they had in the previous years. This year I gave him Treatibles again, and it just worked great.”

Quickly, Hughston saw the benefits that a CBD-infused treat for pets might have for her other dogs. Treatibles seemed to help her oldest, a 15-yearold Rhodesian ridgeback/boxer mix, cope better with the aches and pains of old age, while the products helped her middle dog with anxiety issues. As many uses as there were for CBD in the human world, Hughston saw an almost equally wide array of possibilities on the animal front.

“The more I learned about it, the more I got into the science behind it, and so I started pitching a talk to veterinary conferences on using cannabis in our pets.” Hughston recently presented her findings on CBD and its use in treating canines at the DoveLewis Annual Conference for Veterinary Professionals in Portland, Oregon, and at the SouthWest Veterinary Symposium in Fort Worth, Texas.

“It is such an interesting topic,” she says, “because it’s like we’re rediscovering this plant. It still feels illicit, like you don’t have anyone you can talk to about it, which makes people nervous, especially in a place like Texas.”

Photo by Kevin Clark

Photo by Kevin Clark

She says that while veterinary professionals expressed interest during her presentations, some of the key obstacles in making CBD more publicly accepted as a medicine for pets are the restrictions currently in place with veterinary regulatory boards.

“We can’t prescribe cannabis for pets, and we can’t even recommend it in California,” she explains. “What that means is that clients have to bring it up with their veterinarians. They have to tell the veterinarian they’re interested.”

Hughston believes that when more people understand that products like Treatibles, which are derived from hemp and contain no THC, are at no risk of harming their furry companions, they will quickly embrace what a major difference CBD can make in the quality of a pet’s life.

Todd Davis, the CEO of Endexx, shares her view. His company, through its CBD Unlimited division, is the maker of Phyto-Bites, CBD-infused soft chewables for dogs. Built around a proprietary formula, which properly suspends the CBD in peanut butter oil and has a targeted delivery of 2 mg of CBD per treat, Phyto-Bites are another player in the exploding market for CBD-infused pet products.

Davis is thrilled with the feedback he’s received so far.

“We’re hearing from the customers that their dogs have stopped having diarrhea after two years of chronic diarrhea, that their dogs with congestive heart failure are breathing and resting better, that their dogs aren’t being bothered by arthritis as much,” he remarks. “These are the really simple things that only pet owners see and understand, but from a quality-of-life standpoint, that’s what we were trying to do.”

It was only a year ago that Davis was getting “major pushback” from veterinarians he spoke with. He says the stigma surrounding cannabis left many in the veterinary profession unwilling to risk the potential backlash of supporting a product infused with CBD.

“Veterinarians were telling us that they didn’t want anything to do with CBD treats for pets because there wasn’t enough information,” Davis says. “This summer, going back and talking to them again, now they’ve read more about it. There are a lot of veterinary practices out there now that are using herbal medicines to support their standard practice of care, and they’re finding that instead of treating a symptom, they’re getting results that are curative.”

For now, Phyto-Bites is targeting those who already utilize plants and nutrients as part of their practice. As a hemp-based product, it’s perfectly legal for individuals in all 50 states to order the product online, although Davis is hopeful that one day CBD-infused pet products will be as commonplace as their pharmaceutical counterparts.

The key, he believes, is in education.

“Eighteen months ago, the learning curve was very, very steep,” Davis says. “It’s not as steep as it was. There are people now asking about it. They want to know, and they’re hearing about it. There is a lot of organic education going on right now where people are actually taking the initiative to find out what’s going on. So there’s been a shift on the education side.”

Currently, Endexx is also working on a CBD treat suitable for use with cattle and horses. While the cost of CBD makes it difficult to offer a product that could treat large livestock animals, Davis envisions a CBD treat that can be given to horses that are forced to frequently endure transportation via trailer and other confining spaces.

“If we’re able to reduce the inflammation and stress cycles in an animal for just for that one application,” Davis adds, “there’s a lot of value in that for horse owners. With cattle, when they’re panicking or stressed out, it can affect the value of the meat, as well as their growth cycles, their fat cycles, and how they mature. All of those things have ramifications.”

It’s a rapidly shifting landscape, and as states rush to decide how to implement newly enacted laws, it may be the case that, at least in the short term, the pet side of the cannabis movement may not take top priority.

“It’s like the Wild West right now,” Hughston adds. Cannabis “has just become legalized here in California. It’s been legal in Washington and Oregon for a while, and in Colorado, but the veterinarians have been excluded from prescribing rights in those states.”

Still, with three happy dogs as proof, Hughston is ready to see CBD-infused pet treats be embraced by the veterinary science mainstream.

“For a long time, I think that people in the veterinary community didn’t really think there was a therapeutic use [of cannabis] for animals,” she notes. “Of course, the more we discover about the endocannabinoid system — what it does and how it supports overall health — it’s getting harder and harder for the veterinary side to say there isn’t any benefit.”

What Cannabis Treat Should You Get Your Pet?

With more and more companies getting into the CBD-for-pets business, knowing which product to buy can be confusing. Here’s a quick summary of five of the best options on the market.


Form: Biscuits

Description: Available in blueberry and pumpkin flavors, each Treatibles biscuit contains a carefully measured amount of CBD (1 mg per small-bag treat, 2.5 mg per large-bag treat).

Availability: Can be legally purchased in all 50 states.


Form: Natural supplement added to a dog’s food

Description: Therabis was developed by Dr. Stephen Katz, who created the product while serving as the owner of one of the largest pit bull

practices in the United States. There are three supplement products currently

Available: Stop the Itch, Up and Moving, and Calm and Quiet. Each product is sold in boxes of single-use


Availability: Can be legally purchased

in all 50 states and shipped to

some international locations.


Form: Soft chews

Description: Each container comes with 30 treats, each infused with 2mg of CBD. Manufactured in an FDA approved facility, Phyto-Bites “are formulated to promote health and support the reduction of separation anxiety, pain and inflammation.”

Availability: Can be legally purchased in all 50 states and shipped to some international locations.


Form: Broths and liquid concentrates Description: Seven Leaf Pets offers a CBD Chicken Broth in three different dosages, as well as a CBD liquid concentrate in two dosage varieties. CBD is suspended in fractionated coconut oil.

Availability: Can be legally purchased in all 50 states.


Form: Biscuits, extracts, and topicals

Description: RxCBD offers biscuits for dogs and cats of different sizes, as well as a liquid extract and a topical spray for both species as well.

Availability: Can be legally purchased in all 50 states.