The Current

'We have our dog back': B.C. woman treats pet with medical marijuana

Rebecca Hass' dog Hudson was constantly whimpering, inconsolable and no veterinarian could offer a treatment to help him — until they tried medicating with marijuana. The Current explores treating pets with cannabis.
There was a time when Hudson's anxiety would mean no one in the family could be in the same room as him. Now he's calmer thanks to being treated with medical marijuana. (Courtesy of Rebecca Hass)

Read story transcript

Rebecca Hass says the only thing that's helped her aging canine is cannabis, but that doesn't mean it's pot for pets.

Hudson is a 14-year-old Portuguese water dog — he's in his late 90s in human years. As he's gotten older, Hass says Hudson has been in increasing distress, whining and yipping every day, often for hours on end.

"I find it heartbreaking and quite honestly it's unbearable to listen to," Hass tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

And if Hass and her family go out, Hudson's anxiety grows even more.

"We've had separation issues that have accelerated to the point that we can't go away anymore. I think we're pretty much ... married to Hudson now 'til the bitter end."

When a vet diagnosed Rebecca Hass's dog Hudson with a cognitive disorder, she was told there was no real treatment for dogs. But she refused to do nothing. (Courtesy of Rebecca Hass)

There seemed to be nothing physically wrong with Hudson: he was eating well and going for walks and Hass thought he may have anxiety caused by dementia — in dogs it's called cognitive dysfunction. 

"When we talked to a vet they supported that idea, especially since his yipping at that point was really getting worse after 4 p.m., sort of the witching hour apparently."

Hass says mornings weren't so bad but "by supper we really couldn't bear to be in the same room as him."

One vet told Hass it was cognitive disorder, but there was no real treatment for dogs and they would just have to unfortunately live with it. 

But for Hass that wasn't an option.

"I just couldn't ignore this dog that I can't seem to comfort," she tells Tremonti. 
Hudson getting his treatment. ( Courtesy of Rebecca Haas)

"If I thought he was suffering physically it would be different, but I really feel it's mental and I really wanted to find something that would help him."

And she did.

After trying some treatments which made no difference, Hass learned that some people were turning to hemp to try and help treat their dogs, and she gave it a shot.

She notes that marijuana is extremely dangerous for pets — so it's not about sharing the marijuana a human would buy. There's a big difference between marijuana and hemp that's rich in a chemical called cannabidiol or CBD — which she claims offers the medicinal benefits without psychotropic effects, though it can be deadly if used improperly. 

Hass says Hudson is now calmer: he sleeps better, he's more mobile, he plays again, and he's no longer licking obsessively.

"I know it doesn't work for everyone but it has really changed our life with our dog," Hass is happy to say.

"We feel like we have our dog back."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins.