I was devastated when Maya, my childhood Labrador retriever, was diagnosed with cancer. At nearly 15, she wasn’t a candidate for surgery or any other aggressive treatments. Her remaining months were numbered, and our family’s main goal was to help keep her comfortable.
We received two bottles of Canna-Pet samples to see if they would help ease Maya’s cancer-based pain and help my dog Barley with some of his separation-anxiety-related behaviors.
Canna-Pet is a hemp product for pets. The company pioneered non-psychoactive CBD and hemp products for pets over 30 years ago!
As a proud Coloradoan, I’ve got to admit that I’m quite familiar with cannabis products. I personally benefit from cannabis at times to help with period pain, anxiety, or even to help me sleep.
The Evidence (Or Lack Thereof) Behind Canna-Pet
I’m no pothead, though (thank goodness, since I just moved to Montana, which is much less weed-friendly). I’m a natural skeptic. My first response to many things is, “Where’s the evidence? What data do we have?”
The actual evidence behind CBD and its purported amazing benefits is… limited. Part of that is probably because it’s quite challenging to study CBD and other cannabis derivatives.
We also might be dealing with the “file drawer problem:” studies that don’t find significant results often don’t get published. So a lack of data either way may actually just mean that the studies don’t find any links. Of course, the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.
There are gazillions of anecdotes out there about CBD helping for everything from, well, period pain and anxiety to cancer.
The Canna-Pet website says, “You can also take a look at the 2016 published AHVMA report on Canna-Pet® products conducted by Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences. Among other findings, nearly 93 percent of all surveyed pet owners said they favor Canna-Pet® products to some, most or any medications.”
Of course, owners reporting that they like Canna-Pet isn’t the same thing as scientists demonstrating that it’s effective. But it definitely counts for something!
I don’t love relying on “anec-data,” but in this case, it might be the best we’ve got. Anyway, we were excited to test out Canna-Pet with our own dogs.
Canna-Pet and My Somewhat Anxious Collie
I’ll start with the ho-hum news: I really didn’t notice a change in Barley’s behavior when he was using the Canna-Pet tablets.
He isn’t a super anxious dog, but he does tend to shadow me and often sleeps at the door or sits up waiting for me if I leave him in the car.
I wasn’t taking minute-by-minute notes (maybe I should have), but I really didn’t notice him seeming calmer when using the Canna-Pet, even after using it daily for two or three weeks.
The effect of good outdoor exercise and mental enrichment is way more impressive in our case. Perhaps a dog with more serious anxiety issues (or a diligent note-taking owner) would find different results.
But for dogs with anxiety, I’m inclined to direct the owners to a veterinary behaviorist for medication that’s actually been tested, and ideally, FDA approved for that behavior concern.
Canna-Pet and My Lab’s Cancer
Maya’s case is another story. While the CBD certainly didn’t cure her cancer (she died a few weeks before I wrote this), Canna-Pet helped 15-year-old Maya through her last few months of cancer in two really noticeable ways:
- Her appetite, always voracious, was seriously diminished by the cancer. She hardly ate at all. But with the help of Canna-Pet, Maya was finishing her meals again. This means she was really getting the sustenance she needed to keep her strength!
- Her pain levels seemed a bit lower. After several days with the Canna-Pet, Maya did seem a bit more willing to get out of bed and move around, following my dad for his daily farm chores.
- She seemed, in general, a bit perkier and had a bit of the old sparkle in her eyes.
Of course, the Canna-Pet bottle arrived shortly after a medication change – so some of the improved mobility might have been due to a new prescription.
But the appetite alone was a huge improvement, and one that we think is fair to attribute to Canna-Pet!
The Bottom Line on Canna-Pet
If your pet is suffering from cancer and you’ve got the money, it is probably a good idea to talk to your vet about adding in some Canna-Pet.
That said, if money is really tight, I’d probably prioritize whatever your vet suggests as a top-line, evidence-backed treatment first!
The same goes for anxiety. I do believe that CBD, and Canna-Pet, will often help pets (and people) with anxiety. I didn’t notice a huge change in Barley, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t feel better.
Unfortunately, I can’t ask him. But if your pet is truly clinically anxious, I’d rather see you speaking to a vet behaviorist about medications that are made for your pet’s specific needs, rather than an OTC or more “holistic” approach.
While CBD probably won’t hurt in most cases, it might interact poorly with other medications, mask symptoms, or simply drain your emotional and financial bank accounts when another treatment may have been more effective.
This review is coming off more cool than I intended. I was really pleased with Canna-Pets effects for Maya, and would compare its results for Barley with other OTC approaches, like Composure or a Thundershirt.
Until or unless Barley comes up with more needs that CBD could address, I likely won’t be a regular customer.
Kayla is from Ashland, Wisconsin but lives in Missoula Montana. She holds a degree in biology from Colorado College and has spent years working in zoos, animal shelters, and as a private dog trainer. When not working on Journey Dog Training, Kayla works at Working Dogs for Conservation. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She shares her life with her dog Barley.