by Terry Chea, Associated Press, San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) - Hudson has always been a happy, fun-loving dog, but the 12-year-old Portuguese water dog slowed down considerably after her arthritis worsened and a toe was amputated.
“She's in pain a lot of the time and doesn't want to go out for walks, and we don't want to give her painkillers because they just knock her out," said Michael Fasman, Hudson's owner.
So Fasman tried an alternative medicine that many humans use to treat their own pain and illness -- marijuana.
He gives Hudson a cannabis tincture that's made specifically for pets, adding the extract to her food.
“She's livelier, she's happy to see us, she wants to go out for walks. And she seems like she's not in as much pain,” Fasman said.
As more states legalize marijuana for humans, more pet owners are giving the drug to their animals to treat everything from anxiety to cancer.
Lynne tingle runs a pet adoption center and a sanctuary for animals who can't find homes.
She regularly gives cannabis to older dogs with health or behavior issues and she plans to start trying it with cats.
"You just see a real difference in their spirit, and they're just not in pain, so they're happier, and they're moving better. And they just get a new lease on life," Tingle said.
But veterinarians say there isn't enough scientific data to show that cannabis is safe and effective for treating pets.
And vets can't prescribe or recommend marijuana because it's illegal under federal law.
"Science is not leading the discussion on this, and that's what we need to happen. we need to have the studies. we need to have the science,” said Ken Pawlowski of the California Veterinary Medical Association. “So we have the background information to make informed decisions."
San Francisco-based Treatwell Health says its products can treat a wide range of ailments but don't get the animals high.
"What we find is a lot of the animals are coming to us when there are no other options and pharmaceuticals haven't worked for that animal,” said Allison Ettel, Treatwell Health co-founder. “And so they're at that last resort, and cannabis is really good for those types of situations."
Treatwell tinctures have been selling well at Harborside Health Center, one of California's largest marijuana dispensaries.
"I see a tremendous amount of potential. I think we still have a lot to learn about these products and their efficacy and how they work," said Andrew Deangelo, Harborside Health Center co-founder.
With little guidance from veterinarians, some pet owners are deciding on their own that cannabis is right for their four-legged companions.
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