DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — The hair around Morgan's nose and eyes has turned from smooth chocolate to white over the years.
Morgan's arthritis and anxiety increased with age, and Carol Kratzke decided to try something new to help with it: CBD oil. Kratzke's decision came after having so much success with the oils herself. She says she quickly saw that same success in Morgan, her 12-year-old chocolate lab.
"It helps her amazingly with (arthritis)," Kratzke said. "She is doing fantastic since we started giving her CBD oil daily."
Kratzke is one of many who have turned to cannabidiol (CBD) oil to help their physical and/or mental struggles. Now, pet owners are using the oils to treat their furry friends, as well.
Veterinarians and doctors are still learning about CBD, its effectiveness and dosage. The legality of it falls into a gray area, but there are still many sellers online and in the lakes region.
Becker Pet & Garden and The Candy Store in Detroit Lakes is one of those local businesses that sells CBD products. Owner Scott Sonstegard and his employees said that pet owners buy the products to help with pets' pain; to be more organic; or to help with anxiety, whether common anxiety or jumpiness over Fourth of July fireworks, for instance.
The store first started carrying CBD oil last fall after Gretchen Jorschumb, one of Sonstegard's employees, started researching it. Jorschumb was already interested in the products, as she uses CBD oil herself and "like(s) a lot of natural stuff" for her dogs. She said that she noticed that it had been gaining traction for humans and was starting to pick up in "the dog-cat world too." So she become the store's lead researcher, looking into brands, representatives, the products and more.
Jorschumb found the right products and they were brought into the store. Sonstegard credits her as being the main reason they carry the oils now, but they did have other customers ask about it and a distributor recommend it. Since starting to sell the oil, Jorschumb said that they are "slowly gaining in numbers" and Sonstegard said that he has "had very good success" in its sales.
"We've got many repeat customers ... Many people have said it's been amazing and worked well for them," Sonstegard said. "They're strong believers in the effectiveness of the oils."
CBD oil is extracted from hemp, which is part of the cannabis sativa plant. This is the same plant that produces the THC that causes the high in marijuana, but CBD does not do that. It affects the central nervous system, possibly altering perception and mood, according to the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.
Hemp was legalized in the farm bill of 2014 and further elaborated on in the 2018 version. But, neither version mentioned the legality of CBD, which created the large legal gray area. Technically, there is only one product that has been approved by the FDA for two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
Even without the approval, the CBD business is booming.
For Dr. James McCormack at the Detroit Lakes Animal Clinic, the oils need more testing and research before "we get to something that we expect to work case after case after case," he said.
"There are no evidence-based studies done on this," McCormack said. "We're not even sure what we're dosing with when we try to use those things, so it's not really something we've pursued at this point. There's so much variation from one product to the next ... it's really difficult to even recommend."
McCormack did recognize the positive testimonies about the oils. Kendra Wolfe has had one of those positive experiences for both her and her two dogs, Butters and Minnie. Between the two, there are behavioral issues, anxiety, skin issues and allergies. CBD helped all of that.
"I was originally giving them a smaller dose of mine, but now I give them a pet one," Wolfe said. "Our one dog is older and within probably a week of using it, I noticed that he was a lot more playful and puppy-like."
One of the perks of the oils is that "it's easy to administer, you don't have to force anything down their [dogs] throat," Sonstegard said. It's common to place a drop or two under the tongue, otherwise, it can be mixed into food. CBD products are not cheap either; most start around a $30 minimum.
For people like Kratzke and Wolfe, the cost is worth it. Kratzke says "it's truly amazing," and Wolfe echoes that by saying "it's awesome."
Sonstegard did say that there are other products aside from the oil that can be used. At his store, they have some CBD balm, gummies and treats, along with non-CBD calming items.