TIME Healthcare

What You Should Know About Medical Marijuana for Pets

golden-retriever-lying-down
Getty Images

Be sure to consult your veterinarian first

Now that 23 states have given medical marijuana the green light (with even recreational use now allowed in another four states and Washington D.C.), growing weed has become a growing business. The newest frontier: getting Fido and Fluffy on board with the cannabis revolution.

Relax. We’re not talking about rolling doobies with your dog, or seeing “pretty colors” with your cat. Nope, these are cannabis-containing edible treats and capsules that are meant for sick or aging pets.

“The cannabis plant has many compounds in it,” Matthew J. Cote, brand manager at Auntie Dolores, a San Francisco Bay Area-based edibles manufacturer, told ABC News. Auntie Dolores launched its pet line Treatibles last year. “Most people grow cannabis for the euphoric experience of THC. But they’ve been overlooking cannabidiol—commonly known as CBD—which is non-psychoactive,” he said.

CBD, in fact, does not produce a high, and it’s true that it’s been studied as a potential treatment for epileptic seizures and pain relief for cancer patients.

So, as Cote explained to ABC News, the theory is that since aging canines share a lot of the same health problems as humans, there must be a market for pot-laced dog “medicine.” Sold online ($22 per bag of 40 treats, treatibles.com), Treatibles contain 40 milligrams of CBD per treat and makers advise giving one per 20 pounds of your pet’s weight.

“What we’ve seen is that some of these dogs respond very rapidly,” Cote told ABC News. “One woman from Fort Bragg was ready to put down her dog due to how sick and in pain he was, but the day before he was scheduled to go under, she administered our treats and just like that the dog was up, walking around, and acting normally again.”

Canna Companion, another pot-for-pets proprietor based in Sultan, Washington, also boasts of amazing results for customers. One such testimonial posted on their website reads: “It seems as though [Canna Companion] is the best kept secret in the animal world for pain management and anxiety issues. I originally ordered it for my cat Robbie for anxiety/inflamed bladder issues and it works! Robbie has had issues for the past year or so, and now they are all but gone.”

High (ahem) praise, indeed.

Even so, the American Veterinary Medical Association hasn’t taken an official stance, and even in states where marijuana is legal, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe cannabis products to their patients. (Though that may change: In Nevada, where medical use for humans is legal, the legislature is currently debating a bill that would allow vets to prescribe it to pets.)

Producers of these treats and capsules also have to be careful about any claims they make about their products. According to ABC News, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent Canna Companion’s co-owner (and a veterinarian) Sarah Brandon a notice, stating that the capsules were an “unapproved new animal drug and your marketing of it violates the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic] Act.”

That kind of cautionary approach makes sense, say some experts, who point out that since these products aren’t regulated by the FDA, there’s no real way of knowing what you’re getting—or what the potential side effects might be. Says Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, in an interview with Health: “These products show potential, but there’s not a lot of research at this point. No one is even sure what the correct therapeutic dosage is. For example, in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section on one of the websites, a customer asks, ‘How much should I give my pet?’ And they answer—I’m paraphrasing here: ‘Whatever you think would help.’ Well, that’s extremely vague.”

Not to mention, potentially dangerous: A 2012 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care found that the number of dogs treated for marijuana overdoses at two Colorado veterinary hospitals quadrupled in five years following the legalization of medical marijuana in the state.

Sometimes it’s a case of owners deliberately administering cannabis products (hash-laced brownies, for example) to their pets, experts note. Other times, ingestion happens by accident—say, animals inhaling second-hand pot smoke or getting into their owner’s unattended stash. Wismer, who hasn’t heard of any problems with Treatibles or Canna Companion specifically, says she has fielded more than a few panicked calls at poison control about accidental exposures to pot in general—with sometimes scary results.

“You would think they’d become sedated and wobbly, but almost a quarter of them become quite agitated,” says Wismer. “They’re trying to pace. They’re panting. You reach out to pet them and they jerk their heads away.” In fact, Wismer adds, dogs that ingest large amounts of THC sometimes need to be put on fluids and have their heart rate monitored. Scary, right? (Although the commercial dog treats contain little or no THC, according the manufacturers.)

The bottom line here: You probably shouldn’t feed your pet cannabis—in any form—without talking to your vet.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

More from Health.com:

TIME animals

‘Pups in Pajamas’ Is the Best Thing to Happen to Your Instagram Feed This Week

It's exactly what it sounds like

Attention dog lovers who are using the weekend to catch up on sleep: a new Instagram account, @PupsinPajamas, is aggregating adorable photos of puppies in pajamas from around the web and asking users to submit their own pictures.

A glimpse at the darling dogs that the account has featured since it launched a month ago:

Photos of dogs in pajamas are all over Instagram, and an endless stream of images can be found via the hashtag #dogsinpajamas. There are even hashtags specific to breeds such as #dachshundsinpajamas.

(h/t NYMag.com)

TIME animals

8 Tips for Starting Your Weight Loss Journey From an Obese Beagle Named Kale Chips

Sarah Lauch

He has lost 20 pounds and has had two girlfriends already

During the first week of January, we shared photos of Kale Chips, an 85-pound beagle that was abandoned at Chicago Animal Care and Control by his owner, who could not care for him anymore. The dog could barely walk 10 feet and had to be wheeled around in a red wagon.

Today, the obese animal has lost 20 pounds after living with a foster family and exercising regularly, according to Heather Owens, executive director of the Chicago-based no-kill dog rescue One Tail at a Time.

Kale Chips still has to lose 25 more pounds and find a permanent home. But below are some tips that may help any man, woman, or beast shed the pounds, based on the Facebook photo album of his weight-loss journey:

1. Watch/chase squirrels.

2. Walk up to 1/2 mile daily.

3. Eat fruits and veggies as snacks.

4. Eat kale chips.

5. Eat snow.

6. Get massages.

7. Swim, do hydrotherapy.

8. Have a girlfriend. Have two girlfriends, actually.

One Tail at a Time
TIME animals

Dog Survives After Swallowing 23 Live Bullets

Benno the dog with veterinarian Dr. Sarah Sexton (L) and owner Sonny Brassfield in Mountain Home, Ark. on April 27, 2015
Josh Dooley—AP Benno the dog with veterinarian Dr. Sarah Sexton (L) and owner Sonny Brassfield in Mountain Home, Ark. on April 27, 2015

Benno the dog had eaten a number of interesting objects before

(MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark.) — An Arkansas veterinarian has kept a dog from going out with a bang after the animal ate 23 live rifle rounds.

The Baxter Bulletin reports that 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, Benno, had surgery last week to remove the .308 caliber ammunition from his stomach.

Owner Larry Brassfield says Benno has eaten socks, magnets and marbles but he didn’t expect the animal would bother a bag of bullets by his bed. Brassfield and his wife realized Benno needed medical attention after the pet vomited up four rounds.

The vet removed 17 rounds from Benno’s stomach but left two in his esophagus, which the dog was allowed to discharge on his own.

Brassfield says he won’t leave ammo lying around anymore but isn’t optimistic that Benno will stick to dog food.

TIME animals

Rare Cancer Discovered in Pennsylvania Smallmouth Bass

A smallmouth bass fish
Joel Sartore—National Geographic/Getty Images A smallmouth bass fish, Genoa, Wisconsin .

It's the first confirmed case of its kind in the Susquehanna River

A rare cancerous tumor was discovered on a smallmouth bass pulled out of the Susquehanna River.

The fish was caught last year, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission confirmed the case this week. Fish are not particularly susceptible to cancer, and it’s the first such case in the species in that location, though fish were previously found with sores and lesions, the Washington Post reports.

The disease may be the result of pollution, and officials want the river to be included on the EPA’s list of “impaired waterways.” The EPA, however, says it bases that list on water quality, not the health of species living there.

A Pennsylvania Department of Health official said that consuming fish with cancer should not pose a risk to humans, but urged fishers not to eat those with sores and lesions.

[Washington Post]

TIME Japan

Baby Monkey Named Charlotte Sparks Fears Over Affront to Royal Family

Charlotte the newborn baby monkey with her mother at Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden in Oita, Japan on May 8, 2015.
AP Charlotte the newborn baby monkey with her mother at Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden in Oita, Japan on May 8, 2015.

No offense to the baby princess

(TOKYO) — A monkey born in a Japanese zoo will keep its name Charlotte, after all.

Oita city officials settled a national debate over whether calling the monkey Charlotte offends its British royal namesake.

The officials said Friday they will stick to their first choice because there was no protest from Britain’s royal family.

“We have decided to respect the feelings of the people who voted for the name to congratulate the birth of the princess,” said city spokesman Kazuyuki Adachi.

The name flap began Wednesday when the popular Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden named a newborn macaque Charlotte, which was the favorite in a public ballot. Immediately after the decision was announced, the zoo was flooded with protests from some Japanese who said it was disrespectful to British royals.

Adachi said officials took seriously the views of both sides.

Oita Mayor Kiichiro Sato endorsed the decision, saying: “(The monkey) is given a wonderful and cute name, Charlotte. I think we should stick to Charlotte.”

TIME animals

There’s a Great White Shark off the Jersey Shore

The shark's name is Mary Lee

Nervous about having a Jaws encounter on the Jersey Shore this summer? Just check Twitter before you head to the beach.

The research group OCEARCH lets you track all of the great white sharks it has tagged on its app and website, with each shark sending a ping every time its dorsal fin surfaces above the water, according to NJ.com. The group has been tweeting the progress of one shark, named Mary Lee, as she swims up the Jersey coast, just about 10 miles offshore.

Mary Lee was tagged in Cape Cod in 2012 and weighs 3456 lbs. As of Friday morning, she looked to be halfway between Atlantic City and Long Beach Island.

[NJ.com]

TIME animals

Denver Dog Missing for 4 Years Found Wandering in Illinois

Kelly Booker, left, shows his son, Azzah, right, their long lost dog, Lilly the Shih Tzu, at the United Airlines cargo terminal on May 7, 2015, in Denver.
David Zalubowski—AP Kelly Booker, left, shows his son, Azzah, right, their long lost dog, Lilly the Shih Tzu, at the United Airlines cargo terminal on May 7, 2015, in Denver.

The dog, Lilly, had disappeared on July 4, 2011

(DENVER) — A dog missing for four years has been reunited with its owner in Denver after it was found wandering the streets in Elgin, Illinois.

Kelly Booker says the 9-year-old dog named Lilly disappeared on July 4, 2011. He does not know if the dog got frightened by fireworks and ran away or was stolen.

The dog was rescued last month and taken to a shelter, suffering from a severe ear infection. She was identified by a microchip with her owner’s contact information.

Booker says he doesn’t know how Lilly wound up in Illinois.

The dog wagged its tail and seemed to immediately recognize Booker when he picked her up at a cargo facility at Denver’s airport Thursday.

TIME animals

Mother Cat Adopts Kittens After Losing Her Own

Mikey the cat
Kelli Nicole Photography/doridarlings.com

The adopted kittens had been abandoned

Mikey the cat is finally getting her moment to be a mom.

The 8-month-old feline from Houston, Texas, recently gave birth to three kittens, reports the Huffington Post. Mikey’s babies were born premature and weak. The cat’s owner, Hillary, tried to help the mom save the trio, but all of the kittens eventually died.

Prepared to be a mother, Mikey obviously appeared heartbroken after losing her babies. Hilary said her pet started acting depressed and would search the house for her kittens. Wanting to help ease Mikey’s suffering, Hillary called Dori’s Darlings, a local cat rescue organization.

Dori Hillman, the owner of the rescue, connected the concerned owner with Amanda Lowe and Kelli Nicole, who were caring for three abandoned kittens. Just a few days old, Teddy, Abby and Lily required constant care and supervision.

Lowe had the idea of introducing the needy kittens to Mikey. The grieving mother cat met the babies the day after Hillary and Lowe spoke, and instantly connected with the new brood.

As soon as Lowe set Teddy, Abby and Lily in front of Mikey, the cat reached out for the kittens and begin to “hug” and lick them. Minutes later, Mikey rolled over to allow the kittens nurse from her. Cautiously, each of the babies began to feed.

Lowe and Hillary were watching a new family form before their eyes. Several hours after meeting, Mikey and the kittens were playing, sleeping and cuddling together. Thankfully, Nicole, who works as a photographer, was there to document the special bond building between the new mom and her adopted kids.

Lowe left Hillary’s home without the kittens, deciding to let them grow up in the loving paws of Mikey instead.

“This was just an awful thing she went through and this will be healing for her,” she told Huffington Post.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Archaeology

Oldest Known Ancestor of Modern Birds Is Discovered

Holotype of Archaeornithura meemannae, the oldest ancestor of modern birds has been dug up in China which evolved almost six million years earlier than previously thought.
National News—Zuma Press Holotype of Archaeornithura meemannae, the oldest ancestor of modern birds has been dug up in China which evolved almost six million years earlier than previously thought.

The discovery indicates that modern birds originated roughly six million years before previously thought

Scientists said in a paper published Tuesday that a newly discovered species is the oldest known relative of living birds.

The Archaeornithura meemannae lived roughly 130.7 million years ago in northeastern China, about 6 million years before the previously thought origin of modern birds, according to the researchers who published their findings in Nature Communications.

The bird—which looks largely similar to modern birds—was reconstructed mostly from imagination but also from intact plumage and skeletal features, a researcher told the Washington Post. In part because of its long legs, the scientists believe it patrolled water sources looking for food.

While a separate bird species that lived some 145 million years ago remains the oldest known bird, but it had no living descendants.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com