Amid hype and hope, pet owners turn to CBD oil

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When Kelly Rousey's standard poodle Dallas came into her life 12 years ago, as a rescue dog recovering from badly broken leg, she knew he might one day struggle with arthritis pain. But seeing him hurting was hard.

"It breaks your heart," Rousey says.

To ease Dallas' pain, Rousey's veterinarian prescribed one pain medication, and, when that didn't help, another.

"But, one night I came home and he was hiding under the bushes outside, and he didn't want to come in," Rousey says. "And, dogs, they hide when they're in pain."

When Rousey told her twin sister about Dallas, her sister gave her a bottle CBD, or cannabidiol, oil, made from hemp.

Hemp is in the same plant family as marijuana but contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, the psychoactive ingredient which can give pot users a high.

But, pharmaceutical sales rep, Rousey was skeptical.

"I thought, 'Yeah. Okay," she says.  "There are all kinds of claims that CBD oil can cure cancer and can cure inflammation and reduce pain.  But, I thought, 'Well, the pharmacology is not working, and the Tramadol is not working, So, we'll give it a shot."

At Clairmont Animal Hospital in Decatur, veterinarian Dr. Kelly Bradley says pet owners are asking about CBD.

"Either a client will mention it in passing, 'Oh, by the way, I'm using X, Y or Z,' or they'll ask me my opinions on it," she says.

But, as a veterinarian, Dr. Bradley says, she cannot legally prescribe or even recommend CBD.

Instead, she focuses the conversation on safety, reminding pet owners CBD is a drug, not a supplement.

"So, it needs to be taken seriously," she says.

Dr. Bradley believes CBD has huge potential for helping pets with pain, anxiety even seizures.

But, she says, the CBD industry is not regulated, and there is very little research into CBD's safety, how it works, and how much to use.

She worries about people dosing their pets without thinking about their size, which can be critical.

"I think it's the wild west," Bradley says.  "People are just administering.  They get an oil, and they just kind of give however many drops they think might work. And, it's going to be very different in a small Chihuahua versus a big Great Dane."

Before you give your pet CBD, Bradley says, do your research.

Kelly Rousey did, before buying an organic CBD oil from her pet supply store.

After 3 months on it, Dallas seems to be bouncing back.

"The puppy moments aren't as long as they used to be, but he still has puppy moments," Rousey says.

Seeing what CBD has done for Dallas has made Rousey a CBD believer.

She's already recommended CBD oil to two or three friends with pets.

"Not, that it's going to work for everybody," Rousey says.  "But, it certainly has made a world of difference for Dallas."