Pet pain: Mid-South pet owners try CBD oil for ailments

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's not marijuana, but it comes from the same plant family. Now, pet owners are buying it in mass quantities.

"Roxy is hyperactive all the time," Sarah Georgiou said. She's talking about Roxy, a lab and pitbull mix.

Roxy has been taking a cannabis compound called CBD.

"It makes her calmer around the house," she said. "I actually use it myself. When I figured out they offered it for pets, I said let's do that."

She also gives it her cat Punkin to help with pain.

"She's about 9 years old, and then as far as Hollow, she comes out of the box more. She's more open to company," Georgiou said. "It's something natural you can give to your pet."

She's one of many buying up the pet products at 901 CBD in Bartlett to help their animals with problems like pain, anxiety and seizures.

"Over the last year, probably about 40-50 [pet owners]," owner Tony Falasca said.

CBD isn't new to Falasca. He started making it to replace the prescription opioids he was taking for his frequent seizures. They had become so bad, he was forced to retire from the Navy.

Now, he makes his own stuff to sell.

He buys the CBD from a farmer in Florida and infuses it with XCT coconut oil.

For pets, he makes oils and biscuits and just scales back the amount of CBD.

"Helps them calm down," Falasca said. "Helps them relax. Seizures is one thing, but helps them with other things too."

He said his CBD products don't contain any trace of THC, a concern some people have since hemp was legalized in 2018 as part of the farm bill.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn't decided how to regulate CBD products, meaning it's up to the manufacturer to stand behind its label.

Even so, that hasn't stopped it from becoming the molecule of the moment.

"People ask all the time. It's almost a daily occurrence," said veterinarian Chuck Halford, who works at Walnut Grove Animal Clinic. "We don't prescribe it, and we don't recommend it. We don't tell them where to get it."

Halford has reservations about CBD for pets because he said there's not enough research to know whether it's safe or not. He said everything is based on testimonies and reviews.

"I believe there's enough promise and interest in the industry that it will be tested, and someday we will know," he said.

But pet owners like Georgiou aren't waiting for a scientist's approval. She's convinced by the results she's already seen in all three animals.

Her only suggestion would be, "make sure you research your products."

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