It’s estimated that 70 to 80 million dogs are owned by people across the country. Owning a dog can be a huge — and exhausting — responsibility, especially for those with hyperactive or anxious pups. But now there’s a new option that can allegedly help take the edge off for these canines: cannabis-laced dog treats. And it looks as if the industry may be on the rise.
When Kat Donatello’s black Lab, Austin, was a hyperactive puppy, Kat’s options for calming him down were a bit limited. She had experimented with natural supplements before with her older dog, so she decided to give Austin a special biscuit that contained Cannabidiol, better known as CBD.
After finding that the treat seemed to help her pup calm down, Kat started finessing her recipe. She eventually formed her own CBD biscuit company, Austin + Kat, in 2016.
It seems that Kat may have stumbled into a gold mine. Her company is one of many formed in the last two years that makes pet treats containing Cannabidiol. During that two year period, CBD pet product sales doubled nationwide. It seems to be the latest trend within the half-billion dollar market of animal supplements, an industry that’s expected to grow by more than $150 million during the next four years.
For proponents of marijuana use, pot-laced treats for pups might seem like a no-brainer. But others might be uneasy about feeding these drug-laced biscuits to our pets. Cannabidiol is one of the many chemical compounds extracted from the marijuana plant. But unlike THC, CBD doesn’t provide a euphoric sensation. Instead of producing a high, CBD has been linked to anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects in humans. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse was recently quoted as saying that CBD could potentially help those who suffer from strokes, MS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
But a lot more research needs to be done to satisfy veterinarians nervous about giving dogs marijuana edibles. While the benefits of CBD are not definitive for humans, research on the effects of CBD on our canine friends is severely lacking. The FDA has yet to approve marijuana use in animals, and there’s virtually no evidence in veterinary literature on the effects of CBD in dogs.
However, some vets and pet owners are already in total support of CBD. The noted effects are almost totally anecdotal at this point, but owners who have used it are typically in favor of the treats’ positive effects.
Business owners are seeing definitive evidence of this in their sales. Julianna Carella, founder of another CBD pet treat company called Treatibles, said that her sales have caught on “like wildfire.” She’s not surprised, since there are “so many pet owners that would do just about anything to relieve their animals’ suffering.” Therapis, another CBD treat business, saw its revenue quadruple last year, with their sales growing 30% month-over-month.
Considering the fact that the legal marijuana industry is expected to be worth around $10.2 billion within the next five years here in the U.S., the success of these treats isn’t that shocking. But since dogs cannot consent to being given these substances, there’s an ethical dilemma at play.
“If the proper administration of marijuana can truly relieve dogs’ pain, then they should be given the same consideration that humans in pain are given, with regular doses to help reduce their misery.”
However, some experts wonder whether there should be similar safeguards put in place for animals as there are for humans who seek medical marijuana treatment.
Ethical questions aside, there’s certainly a growing opportunity for such products in the current marketplace. But as pet guardians, it’s up to each owner to make a judgment call as to whether a dog is a good candidate for these treats and ensure that their use does not turn into abuse.
After all, it’s normal for a puppy to get overexcited.