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Why some veterinarians recommend pot for dogs

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by Jo Ling Kent

A new way to treat your ailing pet that's creating some controversy.

More people are using marijuana for medical purposes and not veterinarians and pet owners are doing the same thing.

Cannabis is an increasingly popular way to treat arthritis, cancer and anxiety in pets.

New edibles and oils contain cannabidiol - or CBD - a natural element in cannabis that doesn't get pets high, but some vets believe it has healing properties with the potential harm of traditional pharmaceuticals.

"They can cause upset stomach, kidney damage or liver damage," Tim Shu said of pharmaceuticals. "A lot of pets are unable to handle the harsher side effects of some of those medications."

Shu is a vet in California and created Vet-CBS Oil which he does not prescribe. It is only available through medical marijuana dispensaries.

Rachel Martin said the oil helped her dog Sophie fight cancer for the second time when Sophie's vet gave her just two months to live.

"It just felt like a race against the clock at that point," said Martin.

After spending thousands of dollars on traditional treatments, Martin tried CBD Oil as a last resort. She added a few drops into Sophie's food every day.

"In those two months it was a complete turnaround, and I was sold," Martin said. "She came back from the brink and got a whole new lease on life."

Jody Belliveau never thought she would see her pug Tyson walk again after he lost the use of his hind legs from arthritis.

"I was spending $125 a week for six weeks of acupuncture," said Belliveau.

The CBD treatment is just $80.

Lexi Davis used the cannabis to reduce her pitbull Essie's anxiety.

"She's been so awesome," said Davis. "She's like loving life so much more; she's like playing with her toys more.

Davis said there were no downsides.

Cannabis pet products are not yet regulated, and the California Veterinary Medical Association says vets are legally barred from prescribing or recommending them.

Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, plus the District of Columbia. It is illegal under federal law.

But some vets believer there isn't enough data to show that it's safe for all animals. But that doesn't keep Shu from recommending cannabis.

"If cannabis offers a potential therapeutic route with minimal side effects," said Shu. "Then it's our duty to explore those options."

These pet products do not have any THC, the element of marijuana that has psychoactive or addictive effects.

Medicinal cannabis for pets has big business potential in the multi-billion dollar pet pharmaceutical industry.