Part I: Can CBD Kill Your Pet With Dr. Zac Pilossoph
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I found out a while back that we could have met at an event in Miami about a year ago. We were both speakers, but we spoke at different times. We finally did meet in Las Vegas because we were speaking on a panel at a CBD Expo about pets and cannabis.
When I saw that I was speaking with a vet, I thought “Oh, cool.” Followed immediately by another thought. “Oh wait, is this going to be just another one of those situations where I sit on a panel where a CBD company has hired a vet to come on, and they know nothing about the endocannabinoid system or medical cannabis and they’re just there to promote whatever that company is doing?”
So let’s say nine times out of 10, it’s a broad spectrum product – and we know why – because vets have to be careful of the THC for now. Or literally, it’s a vet who sees an opportunity to make some money and get involved in this wonderful industry that’s blooming, but they don’t know anything about the medicine.
Then I thought, is this another person that I’m going to have to argue with about the THC? Is this person really going to know? I honestly thought I was going to see an old white man. So I walked up and sure enough, there was an old white guy there but then there was this young guy and I’m thinking, “Who the hell is this guy? That’s the vet?”
So I was intrigued by this little Doogie Howser! We spoke and it was magic because he has studied the medicine. He knows all about it and we just really connected and from that point on, our conversations were amazing. Now we’re trying to figure out how the hell we’re going to take on this holistic cannabis pet world that we’re in and how we’re going to make changes.
Making A Change
I feel like education is power, so I always say educate the pet owner. You’re the one that is in charge of their life. You are the one that knows your pet better than anyone and you need to trust that, but we want to give you the tools to know when to freak out and when not to. There are still vets out there who are telling their clients that cannabis will kill their pet, and THC will kill their pet, and CBD will kill their pet. I hear this on a weekly basis.
So here’s a vet, and he’s going to tell you – like we share with you all the time when we bring on these wonderful vets – that it will not kill your pet. The reason that he can say that is because he understands how the medicine works, and that it’s impossible to kill your pet or anyone if you’re using a pure whole plant medicine.
“Exactly So, to make a long story short – the only way in which we can become harmed by cannabis is if a HUMAN adulterates that product. That’s why, as we work towards finding ways to integrate the applications of cannabis in the classic Western pharmaceutical medicine theory plus the way we problem-solve in the world of medicine right now, we need to find ways that we can:
- Create a safety approach that allows us to track from the moment that cannabis is considered and then created into a medicine, then make sure that the process is always vetted.
- Use it in the ways which we know it can be helpful, in a practice that will not be radical. When I say that, I mean we’re going to go low and slow. We’re going to monitor and document over time, and make sure things aren’t getting worse.
In my position when I started getting into this entire world – this secret society – I took the exact opposite approach from people that I work with that are interested in it, and that are tied to some companies. I want us all to be a community, because there are so many things that involve cannabis, that everyone’s going to know something maybe that you didn’t know. At the same time though, the way in which I approach it and the reason why I’m here now is because I met humans, and saw humans, that had succeeded by applying cannabis to something where they had no other option. In this world, you’re taught at school that everything has to be evidence-based medicine, and that it must be done in a structured, rigorous pattern and written in a format and that this is the only way for you to say that something works.
Through my own experience of meeting these people that we’re alive, I found that it was completely the opposite of that and what I was taught. To me, that didn’t make sense and it stimulated my curiosity. That’s why we’re here now.”
Thank goodness that happened, because I find that a lot of vets are set in their ways because they’ve been doing something in one way for a long time. You and I have talked about intent. What’s the intent behind this person? Is this a vet who is out to help animals, as most are, and wants to help and cause no harm? Or are they one that just wants to make a lot of money and the care of their animals isn’t their number one priority? And that’s going to exist anywhere, in any industry.
Not All CBD Products Are The Same
But what’s amazing to me is that the very things that you don’t want to happen to the plant, is already happening in the human world in adulteration. They already have two or three drugs on the human market now that are isolates or synthesized versions of THC, so that the company could bypass the FDA and get approved and get it out there. When this plant grows out of the ground, it is all natural. When you squeeze the flower, you get the medicine, all natural. Why can’t we just get it like that?
So you can tell me if you see this in the pet industry. I didn’t even think about the people that would make shitty products or just do it to get rich. I also didn’t think that we would have to go back to square one and do everything that we did in the human industry. We had to go back and repeat and prove it in the pet industry. Hello? It didn’t kill any humans. We’ve proven that. Every research study was tested ON animals and no animals died, but people continue to say there is no research! Do you find that?
“Yes, absolutely. Every step of the way, there are oxymorons. When you break it down, it’s surprisingly perplexing how we are being hypocritical every step of the way. And so, that’s where we’re at right now and that’s why combining education with creating a product is super important because the education will allow us to establish a groundwork of truly what is factual. When you have a lot of information coming out that is influential, but the validity behind it is not robust, that’s where that disconnect occurs. Whether it’s a company that has a great marketing team that is able to create perpetual exposure, a company that has one study behind it where they have something that says that they’re the best and no one else can beat it. Is that true or is that not true? We don’t know, but it’s what we’re being perpetually exposed to.
Like I said, the way in which I did it is a little opposite of everyone else. I learned the anatomy, the physiology, the molecular biology of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid system. Why the heck was a plant, which is a completely different kingdom of a creature on this earth, able to influence, in a positive way, 30 plus metabolic processes, both in physiology and pathophysiology in our body? How does that make sense?
Let’s worry about that first, and then we can say, how are we going to do this and in the most safe and effective way? As a veterinarian right now, I am so strictly limited on what I can say and what I know is true. But what we can do is discuss and we can talk about it. We can also then use the great strides in the human space, to then allow someone like you who has a vast amount of knowledge as well, apply the advocacy component. It helps people to say listen, low and slow. We have a lot of things that we need to be cautious about, but that’s not to be scared of. We need to work long and slow and then we can be effective. As veterinarians, what can we do right now is that we can promote safety and we can monitor and document and support someone like you, who has this liberating opportunity to help pet parents become empowered, and to help pets increase their quality of life.”
Be Your Own Pet’s Advocate
People will tell me – my dog’s seizures stopped – my dog got up and walked – my dog’s tumor is gone. The first thing I say to them is, please contact your vet and let them know what you did so that YOU educate your vet. Vets are not taught about the endocannabinoid system. They’re not taught about diet and nutrition. If you’re lucky enough to have a vet who has gone out and learned and continues to educate themselves, then you’re so lucky. So I always tell them, go out and tell your vet because you are letting them know – here’s another success story. So at least then that vet will be able to say that they don’t know anything about it, so they can’t recommend it, but they can say I’ve heard some great things about it.
So that’s why we have a lot of relationships with vets who are in your situation, where he can’t recommend it. Dr. Zac can’t talk about it. A lot of the vets that we’ve had on the show are from California, so they’re allowed to talk about it openly or even recommended it. But they’ve had to fight for the right to do that. Otherwise, it’s this very vague situation where you have no idea whether your vet board is going to be okay in your state or not okay, and it’s not worth a vet losing their license over it. That’s the fear that’s out there, so that’s why your vet is not recommending it, prescribing it or telling you all about it – because they are too scared to. And that’s bullshit!
The Rules Of The Industry
I don’t even think people realize that for cannabis companies – even pet CBD companies like our company – customers are not allowed to leave reviews about how they use the product and that it helped them. It’s ridiculous. We do anyway, but at some point I know I’ll get a letter because I’ve already been turned in, so I know I’ll eventually get a letter telling me that I can’t. I think it’s ridiculous that they’re suppressing it so much that they don’t even want people to be able to tell their own stories. We have a Facebook group where we can talk about anything. It’s called CBD and Holistic Pet Advice. You can find it from my page and from the CBD Dog Health page. This is where we are able to talk about things and people can communicate with each other about what they did and what works. It’s a nice open forum, believe it or not – on Facebook – which I’m not necessarily a fan of. One of my favorite things about having Dr. Zac here is that he is completely honest, so we can talk about everything. We can talk about Apoquel. We can talk about Cushing’s disease.
We started the conversation about Cushing’s disease because so many dogs suffer from it. This disease makes no sense because there can be two versions of it. We’re not sure what causes one of them, but we know there are all of these dogs that have it. The reason we started talking about it is because we get a lot of pet parents who turn to our full spectrum CBD products and our salves because their dogs have little tumors all over them. I don’t know, is this most of the time with Cushing’s? Is there any other disease that causes that?
“It’s hard to say, but in the grand scheme of things, when you zoom out, not really that I can think of.”
I have a grooming and boarding business, so it’s really easy for me to spot a dog with Cushing’s now because they have the little papillomas all over them. They’re popping up everywhere. They usually have eye issues and the potbelly. They always have terrible skin and that slight stench. They have the alopecia and lose their fur on the sides. The good thing is that we have so many people that are using the full spectrum extract oils and the salves for the warts and tumors, and then they are finding that some of the symptoms of Cushing’s are disappearing. So along with the tumors going away and disappearing off the body, the pet parents aren’t having to wake up in the middle of the night several times to either take them out to pee or get them something to drink. It actually was a pet parent that asked us, “Is it possible that it’s helping my dog’s Cushing’s?”
“When you told me about that I was blown away. But then when you really look at what Cushing’s disease is, it’s really hyper adrenal activity. Basically, you are creating more cortisol in your body. How does it happen? Both processes are neoplastic – they’re both cancer. It’s not a malignant type of cancer, but it is an over excessive production of cells that are producing over excessive amount of a hormone. So even though we don’t have evidence based medicine to prove it, you have these reports of people coming back with these stories that should incite curiosity. I was blown away when you told me about that. You taught me something that I would have never thought about. And that’s a great example of a disease process that maybe isn’t considered life threatening. And that’s a lot of times where for example, drugs get passed through or approved quicker because there’s no other option. These people are suffering or this animal is suffering, and we need to find an answer.
So even though this condition may not be life threatening, it is a process that causes a decreased quality of life in so many different ways. If that’s not a reason to say maybe we should follow this through, then I don’t know what is. This animal is not enjoying life as much as it should, and we can maybe improve it to do better and we have something that has not been shown to ever kill an animal in the history of the world. So why are we so hesitant to say this animal’s life could be better? I don’t have any reason to say that we shouldn’t try it.”
And you know why I think Cushing’s is what we hear and get asked about most? It’s because it interrupts the owner’s life. This is the dog that you’ve slept with in your bed for your entire life and now you have to get up repeatedly during the night to give them water or let them go out to pee. That’s what I heard from pet parents the most. “I haven’t slept through the night in years!” So now my new advice to them is going to be, give your dog a dose at night before bed, and then you go ahead and take a dose too because you’re going to sleep really good tonight!
“And as a vet, I can’t say any of that yet, as a doctor. I wish I could. I mean, there’s a collection of examples like this in cognitive dysfunction. Dementia for dogs is not life threatening, but what it does do is create such a profound and progressive loss of quality of life where this animal is not having the time of its life anymore. People are watching this at home and it’s a helpless feeling. And it’s like we just cope or we say that it’s okay to deal with this and that because other things are fine. They’re still eating, but is just eating and sleeping all day any kind of life to live? No. Can we improve it? And if we can, how can we prove it?
It’s not just the medicine that we have so far that’s FDA approved, we need to start giving these things other opportunities. Is it homeopathy? Is it something that’s a supplement? Yes, maybe it is for now. Wait, it’s not a supplement at all. We can’t even use that word – it’s crazy what we can’t say. It’s just crazy.”
We don’t even consider it a supplement. We consider it whole plant food. It is a whole plant that does all of these things. So whether we eat it, or we squeeze it and take the oil, it’s a wonderful thing and something that should be in everyone’s diet, every day.
“And it’s globally nutritious to your body.”
We’re talking about degenerative diseases and old age, which I feel like so few people even recognize that their dogs go through the same things we do with age. I didn’t realize that before either. We get older, we get arthritis, and we have to change our diet. We have to change what we’re doing because your body says, “No, you are not having dairy anymore. You are not having gluten. You’re not having this shit anymore.” The same thing happens to pets. So if they’re being fed a kibble diet for their whole life and then they become geriatric seniors, that’s when the issues start happening. The conditions are usually degenerative, or Cushing’s, or something that has to do with old age. But instead of figuring it out and helping their immune system and their body through this, they end up getting a prescription drug, usually for pain, and then it’s kind of a downward spiral. There are bad side effects and then our dogs are not looking at us or acting like themselves anymore. It’s waking us up every night.
Supporting Our Senior Dogs
So let’s back up to when our dogs become seniors and the issues start happening, and see what we can do to support them. My dog, Odie, started having issues when he was 11 years old, and he stopped going up and down the steps because he was in pain. So that’s how I recognized that he was in pain. He literally looked at me like, I can’t go up. So I immediately took him to the vet and they started off with suggesting a brain tumor. Nobody ever said, “Well, he’s this age, so he’s just getting older.”
In my research, I found out that 9 out of 10 dogs suffer from some sort of degenerative myelopathy or some sort of degenerative disc condition. So why isn’t anybody telling us that? Why isn’t anybody saying just like they do to humans – take your vitamins and eat your broccoli, because this is what happens as you age. Why aren’t we talking about this in dogs?
“Because we live in a reactive medicine age where we wait until something has happened and occurred and then we say okay, we have something to mitigate it. But you’re one hundred percent correct. As I’ve talked to you about, I am very interested in creating a preventative, regenerative movement as we’ve done in humans. Now we have a very strong idea of what is, as they say, anti-aging in humans.
We have dogs now that are living longer lives. We have the capability to keep them around longer for a variety of reasons. And so maybe it’s not anti-aging for dogs, but preventative and regenerative is going to become very relevant soon and we need to start understanding that. Food can be fortified to meet the needs of dogs with the right macro and micronutrients, but are they really getting a global health profile for what is needed at the right concentrations or the right amounts that is needed for their specific situation?
An animal that has heart disease may need a completely different concoction of vitamins and minerals, on a regular basis, to help reduce the rate at which things are going to degenerate. Because we are not infinite creatures – we are finite. We all will have a time period where our bodies continue to degrade. What can you do? You can nourish and create a healthy environment from the beginning of the start, so that you don’t have this opportunity at the end to say, could we have done more? Could we have done more? Are we just being reactive? No, we can be preventative and regenerative, and I think that is something to take into account.”
So, if we know that cannabis is a neuroprotectant and an antioxidant, then give it to your dog and yourself – because it is going to protect your brain and your whole body. As our listeners know, I take in old dogs at the farm. I get them when their owners have given up, so I have nothing to lose. I just put them on cannabis. I figure out what they need by determining whether they’re suffering from seizures or Cushing’s, or whatever it is. I work out their diet, which sometimes takes a week or two to figure it out. Does the dog still have Cushing’s? Does the dog still have issues? Yes, but is the dog pain free? Is the dog happy? Is the dog running around in the yard? Is it barking with the pack? Is it doing all these things? That’s what’s beautiful is that dogs don’t know they have the disease. They just know something hurts. So the result is, they aren’t getting up today. Their back hurts so they stop getting up and walking. Then the more they sit, the muscle starts to deteriorate and it gets even harder to reverse.
But that’s my favorite thing about medical cannabis and full spectrum CBD for our pets, because what it’s going to do is get rid of the pain and inflammation. Inflammation causes disease. So we’re going to get rid of the inflammation which helps their body to be proactive against the disease.
Healing From The Inside-Out
Of course, we also have to support their immune system, which lives in their gut, so finding the right diet is important. There’s so much information out there, but don’t be scared of it. Dr. Zac saw this today when I went outside and saw one of the dogs poop and said, “Wow!” Yesterday I fed everybody quinoa and yams with no meat, to just change it up with a cleanse. Let’s see what happens. Yeah, it was fun! There was a lot of turmeric in it so it was orange!
Let’s talk a little bit about what we can do to give support if you have an elderly pet. We’ve talked about Cushing’s and degenerative diseases. What are some things that you think pet parents can do? I mean of course, I say CBD full spectrum, but what about diet and other things? I want to empower people to be able to go into their vet and say things like – this is what I need to know, this is what I saw or read about. Is this what you want from a pet parent that comes in?
“Well, that’s an age that I’m very much looking forward to, as you probably are as well, and pet parents want that too.”
Do you hear that pet parents? They want you to talk to them. They want you to communicate, and then they want you to listen. Don’t be an asshole. I’m not a vet, but this happens to me on a daily basis so I can’t even imagine what vets go through. You can’t take the information they give you and then not do anything with it and come back a month later saying that it’s worse!
Then you ask if they did what you suggested. They didn’t, so there is this frustration.
So go in there and say this is what I’ve been experiencing. This is what’s happening. What can I do? Listen, and then do it. Especially if you have a vet like Dr. Zac!
“Yeah, I’ve been fortunate that in a short period of time, I’ve been able to travel the entire country and work in different socio economic environments, in different establishments – general practice and emergency surgical situations. It’s just such an eclectic mix and in a very concentrated, rapid period of time. And what I’ve found is that in every single situation, in every level of medicine, we’re dealing with the exact same thing. We’re dealing with two groups of humans. We have the doctor side and we have the pet parent side, both of which want nothing more than to make this creature – the third component – happier and healthier. That means that there has to be a level of balance and there has to be a level of equilibrium and acceptance on either side, plus give and take.
You’re creating a relationship, and that is integral for what both sides want – for this creature to have a happy and healthy life. That’s a responsibility for both of us and for each side to be okay with saying, “Look, this is what we have and this is my opinion, but what are you capable of? And what can you do? And what are you seeing?” Like you said, it’s about communication. If there’s anything that has been paramount to my success in that environment, it’s been that I understood that back in the day, I was not the best communicator.
What has now allowed me to become comfortable in every situation, is to give myself and to be completely transparent and say, “Listen, this is what I know, what I was taught, what I think is the best, and this is what I’ve learned over time. Is this something you’re capable of? And if not, then let’s work together and find the solution.”
Awesome. I can’t even imagine my vet saying that to me. Thank you for joining me today. Dr. Zac is going to join me as much as possible and I’m going to make him, whether he likes it or not! We met in Vegas, but found out we only live four hours away from each other. So he’s going to be back again from the 305, also known as Miami, which is where I’m from. This is supposed to have happened. This is just kismet.
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years, and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.
About Dr. Zac Pilossoph
Dr. Zac Pilossoph, a Long Island, NY born, nationally recognized veterinary medical professional, a top graduate of Tufts University Veterinary School of Medicine with post-graduate focused training in E/CC and Neurology/Neurosurgery at two of the most recognized programs in the country, and a young multidimensional serial entrepreneur, has rapidly and collaboratively helped promote a new wave of global evolution and individual empowerment in more ways than one. In addition to developing and launching several novel platforms in the veterinary and mental health fields, he is now quickly joining some of the most reputable leaders in the cannabis education and innovation space. Dr. Pilossoph is determined to synergize with colleagues, allowing evidence-based information to fuel a rapidly expanding industry.
As one of the world’s most proactive cannabis-focused experts in his respective industry, Dr. Pilossoph provides tremendous value by delivering non-bias, harm reduction education, via both large-scale speaking engagements and individualized consultations, to the global cannabis pet and vet industry. Further, he is a Certified CBD Professional Educator through the CBD Training Academy and has started a nationally influential multi-tiered cannabis brokerage firm titled Excelsior Honour Associates. Lastly, he acts as a consultant for the CBD product space in order to impart as much quality, control, and consistency across the industry as much as possible. Ultimately, through candid education, fierce collaboration, and constructive evolution, Dr. Pilossoph is reversing stigmas and advancing the safe and effective consideration of cannabis into society, for all creatures on Earth.