Dogs resort to weed to cope with 4th of July fireworks

To calm dogs spooked by 4th of July fireworks, pet owners are using treats made from marijuana plants.

                            Dogs resort to weed to cope with 4th of July fireworks
(Source:Getty Images)

As the Fourth of July approaches the calendar for American patriots, preparations are underway to celebrate one of the biggest holidays in the United States. Of course, longstanding tradition calls for a grand show of fireworks, and while it might be enthralling for most of us, the spectacle is scary, to say the least, for our canine friends.

Stella, a 5-year-old pitbull mix, is so petrified by the noise created by fireworks that “she pretty much spends the whole week in the bathtub,” according to her owner, Vlad.

So, Vlad decided to get creative this year and save his dog from feeling like it is the end of the world. He is trying cannabinoid-infused dog treats to calm Stella amid the bursting crackers.

“We bought them out of desperation, really,” he said, during a conversation with The Post.

His girlfriend ordered the said treats from Bark Shop. They are chicken-flavored and contain a soothing, non-psychoactive hemp extract - and Stella is already enjoying them. Vlad started feeding her the treats as early celebrations commenced in their neighborhood.

Now, Stella is not petrified at all by the intimidating noise of the fireworks. She can be seen rolling over on her back, wagging her tail, and casually hanging out with her family instead of hiding in the bathtub.

Vlad’s been pleasantly surprised. “I was skeptical at first, but she’s way less intensely scared after she’s had the treats,” he says. “It’s not like she seems drugged. I can just tell that the anxiety doesn’t take hold like it usually does this time of year.”

The use of cannabinoids for pups has been trending for some time now. They are being looked upon as alternatives to cure pooches of anxiety, arthritis, nausea, inflammation, and pain. Back in March, Bark Shop began selling CBD products, and they claim that all of their CBD offerings sold out within 24 hours of availability, according to The Post.

Lou Sagar, the owner of East village apothecary Alchemist's Kitchen, claimed that his company saw double-digit growth from the sale of CBD dog treats since they started adding it to their shelves three years ago.

CBD treats reportedly offer a less "severe" option than conventional medicine such as puppy Xanax, according to publicist Rachel Van Dolsen. Her rescue dog, Sal, was initially prescribed the same in order to cope with trauma from her life before adoption.

“I didn’t like the idea of a dog on those kinds of meds for a long period of time,” the Williamsburg resident tells The Post. Upon her vet's advice, she started using Alchemist’s Kitchen’s treats — and claims it’s made a huge difference. “Sal just seems calmer and more collected,” she says. “It just takes the edge off a little.”

Hearing all these CBD advocates with their success stories, it is no surprise that the Fourth of July marks an uptick for interest in the natural medicine. CBD reportedly keeps our canine friends calm enough not to tear up the house or even run away, for that matter. According to animal welfare organization American Humane, July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters as they deal with runaway dogs who are gravely perturbed by the fireworks.

Yasmine Mortsakis, a veterinarian who has offices at Biscuits & Bath, a pet care facility which has multiple locations across Manhattan, says: "We’ve definitely had an increase in owners asking about it around the Fourth of July."

And Joe Caruso, owner of the LA-based CBD company Green Helix, says sales for his “Fur Baby Fix” CBD tinctures have seen a sharp rise since last week.

With that being said and given the lack of long-term animal studies on the use of CBD, Mortsakis and her fellow veterinarians are still hesitant about officially endorsing the remedy. Since these dog treats are not regulated, poor-quality ones may contain THC in traces, proving to be highly toxic for dogs. Mortsakis urges pet owners to use caution before purchasing any such products, adding that determining the correct dosage for the dog is also a challenge in such cases.

However, the majority of her clients have used doggie CBD with roaring success and haven't seen any detrimental effects in their pets.

“Right now, it’s one of those things where most vets think there are a lot of therapeutic benefits, but there’s not enough research to recommend it,” she says.

The medical director of the A.S.P.C.A.'s national animal poison control center, Tina Wismer, said she did not know of a single casualty in dogs who consumed marijuana without consuming chocolate, which is also adversely toxic for them. However, some have come really close to dying, she says.

“We always used to joke about treating marijuana with fluids and Doritos and Pink Floyd,” Dr. Wismer said. “But we have had some serious intoxication — animals that become comatose, with extremely low blood pressure.”

Meanwhile, it is still not clear if dogs do have a markedly lower tolerance for THC, as compared to human beings. The math pertaining to the same is rather intimidating: A CBD-infused cookie potent enough to get a 150-pound human stoned has 10 times the effect on a 15-pound dog, owing to the difference in body mass.

“I’ve had owners come in and they are stoned and they recognize some of the severity, but they just think it’s the funniest thing and they can’t stop laughing in the exam room,” said Brett Levitzke, medical director of the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group in Brooklyn. “To the poor dog, it’s not very funny.”