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Can medical marijuana help ailing pets?

Medical marijuana for pets 02:36

DENVER -- Colorado is one of 23 states where medical marijuana is legal. Some human patients swear by it, but is pot OK for your ailing pets?

CBS Denver station KCNC reports there are some cannabis-containing products now on the market specially designed for cats and dogs.

Chiara Subhas of Denver decided to try it when her 14-year-old rescue dog, Leo, started having seizures. The little Pomeranian was "just violently shaking, his mouth is open, his eyes are rolling back, he's drooling," she told KCNC reporter Kathy Walsh.

Subhas tried changing his diet. Then she went to pot. "We were suggested by our veterinarian in Boulder that we try a medical marijuana product for our dog," she said.

The product is called Canna Companion. Leo started on two capsules a day.

Chiara Subhas of Denver says a medical marijuana product helped her 14-year-old Pomeranian, Leo, when he started having seizures. CBS Denver

"Shortly after, his seizures definitely decreased," said Subhas.

On the company website,, Canna Companion is described as a hemp supplement for cats and dogs. The company calls it a unique blend of cannabis sativa strains with low levels of THC, the ingredient that gets people high.

There are more than a dozen testimonials posted on the site. One cat owner writes that cancer-stricken Harley's "happy purrsonality came back immediately!" And Subhas' own veterinarian writes that the capsules helped Titus, her 13-year-old Great Dane, be "comfy and mobile."

"It's not going to cure cancer. It's not going to stop seizures from happening. But it can help," said veterinarian Dr. Sarah Brandon.

Brandon is co-founder of the supplement company out of Washington state. She stops short of making medical claims. In February, the Food and Drug Administration warned Canna Companion and similar companies to remove unproven health benefits from their marketing.

Brandon told CBS Denver, "It's one more tool in our tool belt and we firmly believe that veterinarians and pet parents should have it available to them if they should choose to use it."

But the FDA warned "consumers should beware purchasing and using any such products."

"I personally am not a big fan of the FDA," said Subhas. "I would not worry so much. I don't worry about that at all."

But some veterinarians are more wary. Dr. Debbie Van Pelt says she isn't ready to recommend cannabis for cats or hemp for hounds.

"I just think that we don't have the evidence right now to document what is safe and what is effective," said Van Pelt.

Van Pelt believes there may be potential in medical pot for pets and she understands why owners try it: "Because people love their animals and they are looking for ways to give them better quality of life," she said.

Subhas sees the change in Leo, and thinks the $75 a month she's spending on medical marijuana for him is worth it. "He's more alert overall. He seems just more comfortable," she said.

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