Wiggles is one happy dog. The six-year-old pup is active and loves to run and play at the dog park.

But three years ago, his owner Becky Davies, thought those days were over.

“Well, when he was about three-years-old, I noticed he was in a lot of pain. He would wake up in the middle of the night crying when he tried to move,” Davies said.

Wiggles with diagnosed with hip dysplasia. A vet prescribed him two drugs for the pain.

But when Wiggles accidentally ate an entire bottle of opiates and was rushed to the emergency room,
Davies decided to treat him with a more holistic approach.

In the controversial case for cannabis, Wiggles is now a medical marijuana patient.

“I’ve been working here for almost eight years. So, I’ve seen it help people. And I realized most of the studies we have on cannabis for arthritis or any type of ailment is done on animals,” Davies said.

Davies is the assistant manager at Canna Care, a medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento. She says she starting seeing a huge improvement in Wiggles after she started giving him a few drops of olive oil infused with pot.

“He’ll got to sleep and just sleep fine when he used to wake up in the middle of the night crying,” Davies said.

Davies only uses CBD – or cannabidiol – to treat Wiggles. Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical, meaning he won’t get high.

If you look online, hundreds of marijuana products are for sale, offering dogs treatment for anxiety, pain relief and even seizures.

“She knows how to work the system,” Doctor Jyl Rubin said.

Dr. Rubin, an Orangevale-based veterinarian, is a big believer in CBD products for pets. She even has her own line of medications.

“I make a topical spray, which is great. And it also has some essential oils for pain control,” Dr. Rubin said.

Dr. Rubin says even a small amount of cannabis can help pets with pain relief. But legally, she can’t recommend it to her patients. Vets are regulated by the federal government, not the state.

So, while dogs like Wiggles may benefit from marijuana, it’s still an illegal substance under the DEA’s guidelines.

“So, we’re getting into this battle here where it’s legal in the state but illegal federally,” Dr. Rubin said.

Now, Davies always makes sure to give Wiggles the right amount and specific type of medical marijuana – always CBD – but here at an emergency vet clinic in Sacramento, they see some owners who aren’t always so careful.

“We’re not seeing people who are trying to treat their dog’s medical condition. Those dogs aren’t coming in with the intoxication. It’s the ones that are really getting into the stash,” Doctor Christina Bradbury said.

Dr. Bradbury works at Vista Veterinary Specialists in Sacramento. She says they see several dogs every week who have eaten marijuana edibles – often in the form of a chocolate “pot brownie,” a potentially deadly combination.

“Chocolate is toxic for dogs as well, and that can also cause problems for dogs. And they can both cause problems with the heart, and that would be one of the things to worry about,” Dr. Bradbury said.

CBD products might help dogs like Wiggles with pain relief, but Dr. Bradbury warns eating pot with THC could actually make dogs experience more pain, not less.

“They’re kind-of staggering. It looks like they’re drunk…and they’re dribbling urine.”

And for pet owners, treatment comes at a steep price. Dr. Bradbury says caring for a dog overdosing on marijuana could cost upwards of $1,000.

As a cannabis technician, Davies is well aware of the risk pot poses, but she also sees the benefits.

“She’s not in pain anymore,” Davies said.

She knows CBD is making a difference for Wiggles every day.