Our Pets Get Stressed Out Too

Our Pets Get Stressed Out Too

Humans aren’t the only ones feeling anxiety and stress as a result of the pandemic. Our pets are too! And if you’ve been working from home for the past few months, it’s possible that your dog or other animal could develop separation anxiety when you return to work.

Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Silcox joins Ned for a conversation about the promising benefits CBD is showing in animals for conditions like anxiety, chronic pain and epilepsy. Dr. Silcox also reminds you to check with your pets’ vet before giving them anything!

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Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to Distraction. Today, I am welcoming a guest, and you could guess all day long, and you would not guess what she does, a really unique niche in the helping profession. She’s in my favorite helping profession, namely, she’s a veterinarian. But she has a very special niche in the world of veterinarians aside from being a general veterinarian and treating dogs and cats and whatnot. She is the president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine. Isn’t that something? I asked her, how many members does it have? Expecting her to say about four, 350 Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine.

And in addition, she’s the owner of Greenwood Veterinary House Call Services, which sounds like angels of mercy. They make housecall for hospice and palliative care to these little dogs and cats, and I suppose birds, I don’t know. But in any case, the idea of going in and delivering palliative care, being a dog lover myself, I know how much that must mean to the patients or clients, whatever she calls them. In any case, but I won’t keep talking. I want to welcome, I think, the most unique guest we’ve ever had on Distraction, Dr. Sarah Silcox, who comes to us from just East of Toronto in Canada. Dr. Silcox, welcome to Distraction.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Thank you so, so much. I’m speechless after that introduction. Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, I’m speechless to have met you. Really, you could have knocked me over with a feather. How long have you been doing this cannabinoid medicine for pets?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

So the association was founded… We just celebrated our third anniversary. So we founded in June of 2017, which was just more than a year before Canadian legalized cannabis for not only medical use, which had been legalized for some time, but also for non-medical or recreational use.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And why would someone give their pet CBD?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I think, much like on the human side of things, CBD has been touted as a bit of a cure all. And I think that’s one of the things that we work to really clarify is that it’s not snake oil, there’s a solid basis to how it works from a medical perspective.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s for sure.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

But on the same token, it’s also not a cure all, it’s a very specific medicine that’s going to work for different conditions, and in different patients it works a little bit differently. But the most common things that pet families are telling us that they’re choosing to use it for include things like chronic pain, anxieties, behavioral disorders, general inflammation, skin conditions, trouble sleeping. So there’s really a broad range. And that’s understandable once we start to understand how CBD and other cannabinoids work in the body, that it’s able to treat a whole range of different problems potentially. We’re still waiting on some of those published studies to come out.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Interestingly enough, our sponsor, OmegaBrite, makes a CBD product specifically for dogs. Have you heard of OmegaBrite? It’s a wonderful American company. They started off with fish oil and Omega-3 fatty acids supplements, and then they just came out with their CBD supplement for humans and they also have one for dogs.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Humans, and then they’ve expanded that into the pet world as well. And I think we’re seeing a lot more of that in the US compared to Canada. Because in Canada, our regulations are a little bit different. So even though it’s technically legal, it’s only legally available through certain regulated channels. And as of yet that hasn’t included a market specifically for pets. In Canada, people are either purchasing a product sold outside that legal pathway that are pet specific, or they’re purchasing legal products intended for human consumption and then giving them to their animals.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, since most of our listeners are in the United States, although they actually are around the world, but for our listeners, if they wanted to get CBD for their dog or other pet, they could just go to omegaBritewellness.com, and there it would be. So why would they do that? You mentioned anxiety. How can you tell if your dog or cat is anxious?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Well, I think there’s a wide range of things that can cause anxiety. We have situational anxiety. So sometimes it’s just a short term thing like thunderstorm, or a trip to the vets or the groomers. And other times we’re dealing with more generalized anxiety, and behavioral disorders, and separation anxiety, which funny enough is getting a lot of attention as in certain areas, maybe not in some of the states, but certainly here in Ontario, we’re starting to get some opening up of the economy and opening up of the restrictions that have been in place for the last several months. Our pets have gotten very used to us being around. And so, one of the concerns is, is that when we all start going back to work and resuming our more normal routines, how are our pets going to be affected? And for some pets, they may struggle with some separation anxiety.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What a great point. I hadn’t thought of that. What a great… And of course they would. Of course, they would, they feel abandoned and anxious.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

The cats on the other hand will probably be celebrating, “Thank goodness the humans are gone.” But our dogs, I think, a lot of them have really come to enjoy us being around a lot more.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, I’m a dog person, not a cat person, but I do appreciate the feline independence, but I’m drawn to the canine affection. But that’s such a good point, Sarah, that when we’ve been with them all the time and then we leave them, and of course they’ll be sad. I can see your dog standing at the door waiting for us to get home.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you said pain is, so if they have arthritic hips or something like that CBD might help?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yeah. Chronic pain is probably the number one reason that people have looked to cannabis-based therapies, both for themselves as well as their pets. But it’s also one of the ones that’s been looked at most commonly in our published studies. So we now have a few published studies that have looked specifically at using high CBD cannabis products for the treatment of arthritic pain in dogs. We also have a published study that’s looked at the use of CBD for treating epilepsy in dogs as well.

And so, all of those studies have been very positive, certainly more work still needs to be done. It’s not cut and dry, there’s always lots of confounding factors. And it’s certainly not something that I would recommend people do without consultation with your veterinarian. It is still a medicine, even though you can order it online, you don’t need to go to your veterinarian to get it, but we do want to make sure that it’s a suitable product that will maybe not missing something else, and also make sure that there’s no possible drug interactions. And that’s something a lot of people don’t consider.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

They don’t consider drug interactions?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

That’s right. So if your pet’s on other medications for chronic health problem, and you decide to add in a high CBD product, there’s the potential, and again, we’re still learning, this area is so new to us from a medical perspective, but it certainly appears that there can be the potential for some drug interactions because CBD can affect the way our body metabolizes drugs.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And also, I’m very intrigued by your Greenwood House Call Services. What are the kinds of conditions like a dog who’s dying of cancer or something?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I mean, really it encompasses a range going anywhere from those senior patients who are just struggling a little bit more, the focus has shifted away from finding a diagnosis and finding a cure to really trying to keep that patient as comfortable as possible, up to patients who’ve been diagnosed with life limiting diseases like cancer or those who have reached end of life, and the family wants to have that end of lifetime be at home where the pet is most comfortable, and where they’re probably more comfortable as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sure. And that’s the one downside of having a pet, that they die usually before you do.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

And I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “Never again. I’m not going to do this, it’s too hard.” But fortunately, I think, given enough time, our hearts are able to see how much joy they brought. And in most cases, I think, families end up opening their heart to another pet.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

We’ve done it five times now. And every time it’s so hard, but-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

It’s a testimony to how much joy they bring us when we’re willing to go through that thing all over again.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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[SPONSOR BREAK END]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What do you have yourself?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I have one cat named Marvin and I have a, let’s see, he’ll be 13 in the fall, a little Miniature Pinscher, and then a great big Argentinian Mastiff.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What are their names?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

His name is Wallace, and the little one is Blackberry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wallace and Blackberry, that’s so adorable. Wallace, what a great name for a big dog, and Blackberry, what a great name for a little dog. And then Marvin, of course.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

And Wallace is actually on cannabis-based therapy as well. So he gets a high CBD product every morning and every evening.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. Do you have kids?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I do not, just my furry ones.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

But a husband.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Is he a vet as well, or is he-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

No, he’s in corporate training. So completely different type of business. But thank goodness, he’s also an animal lover. He actually came into the relationship with Blackberry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh, that’s wonderful, that’s wonderful, that’s really wonderful. And did you growing up wanting to be a vet?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yeah. I think when I look back through the little school day treasury books, it first hit the radar in grade two. Veterinarian was on the list of things I’d like to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So many little girls say they want to be a vet, but you actually did it.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I actually did it. Well, I had an interesting background. My dad was very much an animal and nature guy, and my mum was a nurse. And so, I think I had both sides of things. So veterinary medicine seemed to be a pretty darn good fit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what’s the process in Canada? How do you become a vet?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

In Canada, so way back when I went through, you had to have a minimum of one year of general science, and then applied into the veterinary program, if accepted, there was then a pre-vet year and then a four year veterinary program. They’ve changed it up a little bit since then. So now it’s a two years and you write your MCATs and go through the application process, and then a four year program.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You take the medical college admission test?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

They do now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Just as if you were applying to medical school?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. So you have to have a college degree and then take the MCAT, and then four, five-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

So it’s a minimum of two years of science or equivalent, I believe, now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

To get in? And then that school is four years just like medical school?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. And then do you specialize-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

We’ve got a lot more species to cover.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, you sure do. So do you get trained in all the species?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

We do. I believe that there are some veterinary schools now that are starting to stream a little bit, but generally speaking, most veterinarians have received training in both large and small animal. And then as they progress through the course and get into that final year, their elective courses can focus more heavily on the area that they feel like they’re going to pursue. And so certainly all of my electives were small animals.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

But nonetheless, you were exposed to how do you deliver a horse, or how do you take care of the pregnant cow. Do you get trained on how to take care of a snake?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Briefly, yes. And birds and fish. I was actually going through the garage last week and found a whole bunch of boxes with my old notes in there, and I’m like, wow, we had a lot of lectures on fish that I don’t remember.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Fish, really? Wow.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what about birds?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

So we do the full gamut. And circling back to today’s topic, it’s really interesting to see some of the science that’s coming out as we start to look at how CBD and other cannabinoids influence other species as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Really. Have you taken care of parents?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Parents or parrots?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Both. Obviously, parents, but-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Parents, not so much-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Not so much.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

… But aging parents, yes. And both my parents, I also push to have them on medical cannabis therapy as they approached senior years and end of life, my mom still gets hers regularly. She has both dementia and arthritis and it helps to level out both of those, I think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. Well, you sound like a dream come true of a veterinarian. I wish I lived near you and you could take care of our animals. You obviously found your calling. It’s wonderful. And you’re a pioneer, you’re breaking new ground, you’re staying young, that’s also impressive.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Dr. Sarah Silcox, founding director and current president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine, and owner of Greenwood Veterinary House Call Services. What an angel of animals you are for sure. I can’t thank you enough for joining us.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Oh, you’re very welcome. Thank you so much for having me on and introducing your audience to some of the potential uses for those CBD products in pets.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Thank you indeed. What a unique and wonderful guest you’ve been. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Now, I just have to read some credits. Please, listeners, reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas, and we really do love getting them, by sending an email to mailto:[email protected]. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media, our recording engineer and editor is Scott Persson, and our producer is Sarah Guertin. I’m DR. Ned Hallowell, your host, saying goodbye, until next time.

The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one, Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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