As the use of medical and recreational marijuana continues to grow — as well as the legalization of weed in the U.S. — pet dogs have more chances of exposure than ever before. If you use marijuana or your dog is around someone who does, you may be wondering how it can affect your pup. Can dogs get high? Is weed bad for dogs?
Our experts have compiled a list of the most common questions and answers about dogs and marijuana to give you the best information you need to keep your pup safe and healthy.
Cannabis vs Marijuana vs CBD
The terminology surrounding cannabis, marijuana, and CBD can get confusing, so it’s important to have a good understanding of each term. Cannabis is a plant that comes in several species, including Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. The hemp and marijuana plants are two types of the cannabis plant.
The cannabis plant contains compounds called cannabinoids, the most widely known being THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets you high. The marijuana plant, which has many nicknames (e.g., marijuana, weed, pot, reefer, ganja, and Mary Jane), has very high levels of THC and low levels of CBD.
CBD is extracted from hemp or marijuana plants. However, the hemp plant has extremely low amounts of THC (< 0.3%) and high amounts of CBD. CBD is not psychoactive, so it doesn’t produce the same side effects as THC. You may have heard about the increasing use of CBD oils and treats as an all-natural remedy for dogs’ certain ailments.
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Yes, dogs can get high from marijuana in a few different ways.
- If your dog ate weed directly by ingesting marijuana leaves and/or buds
- If your dog ate edible products — food laced with marijuana (brownies, cookies, muffins, etc.)
- Secondhand smoke — yes, your dog can get high from inhaling smoke
How Does Marijuana Affect Dogs?
What happens if a dog eats weed or inhales secondhand smoke? Here are some of the signs you should look out for if your dog’s exposed to weed, even in small doses.
- Dilated pupils or glassed over eyes
- Loss of balance
- Breathing problems
- Whining or crying
- Excessive drooling
- Blood pressure changes (increase or decrease)
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Urinary incontinence
- Body temperature is too high or low
Signs of potential toxicity can be seen anywhere from 5 minutes to 12 hours after your dog is exposed to marijuana. Symptoms can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days, depending on how much they ingest or inhale.
Can Weed Kill Dogs?
According to the Pet Poison Helpline (1-800-213-6680), the risk of marijuana poisoning in dogs is moderate to severe. In rare cases, it can kill dogs, especially if a dog ingests a large amount. This could happen if you accidentally leave an open stash of your bag out or if your dog gets into a large pan of brownies or other edibles.
Does My Dog’s Size Make A Difference?
Size plays a significant role in how weed affects dogs. If two dogs—one 75 pounds and the other 3 pounds—get into the same size stash, the smaller dog will have a worse reaction than the larger dog. Their bodies metabolize it differently.
Some dogs also become more “paranoid” after getting high; this is often shown by them panting and pacing. It’s a challenge because you can’t determine which dogs will have this reaction until they’re high.
THC and Dogs – What is THC?
THC, which is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a component of the cannabis plant known for causing the body to get “high.” This is often caused because it reacts with the brain to trick it into having an extreme level of euphoria. THC also helps to relax the body which can help to relieve pain, soreness, and vomiting. It can even work to increase your dog’s appetite thanks to it encouraging better metabolism in their body.
Can Dogs Use THC? Is Weed Bad for Dogs?
So, is weed toxic to dogs? Is THC toxic to dogs? While dogs can use THC, it’s often advised that they don’t. This is because it can be very easy to give them too much of it which can end up being deadly. So, while THC does have benefits for dogs, such as pain relief, it can be very dangerous to use if not monitored closely. Because of this, many vets often recommend you look to using something like CBD oil instead.
If you want to use cannabis for dogs, it’s first important to talk with your vet. They will be able to tell whether your dog is suited to use THC and help to give you the right amount to give to them. Your vet will also more than likely have you do follow-up appointments so they can monitor how your dog is doing and if adjustments need to be made.
Dogs and THC – How to Use THC Oil
It’s very easy to use THC oil. Usually, this oil will come in a bottle with a dropper you can use to measure the doses out with. This way, it can make it a bit easier to ensure you don’t overuse it.
To use this cannabis oil for dogs, simply squeeze the dropper so oil goes in it and then add the required amount to your dog’s food or mix it into a special treat for them.
Do Dogs Have Cannabinoid Receptors?
Yes, dogs do have cannabinoid receptors which are very similar to the ones humans have. They are attached to the dog’s brain and nervous system which react with cannabis oils when they are ingested or rubbed on their skin. However, dogs have fewer receptors than humans so the oil might not have strong effects on their body as they might have with humans.
Marijuana Effects on Dogs – Negative Effects of THC
THC toxicity can be dangerous for dogs if you don’t give them the proper amount. Below are some common side effects your pup might experience if they are given too much THC.
One common side effect of THC for dogs is extreme tension. This is because THC can cause their muscles to tense up which can make it hard for them to walk. However, this might seem a little ironic as THC can help with relaxation sometimes. The key to this is the amount of THC given, and if you give your dog too much, your dog can become too tense for them to function normally.
Another side effect of THC for dogs is excessive drooling. This is because THC will cause gastrointestinal problems which can increase the amount of saliva in their mouth. Sometimes excessive drooling will even indicate your dog is in pain, especially if this pain is located in their mouth or throat.
They Have a Hard Time Walking
Sometimes THC can cause dizziness and vertigo in dogs which can make it difficult for your dog to walk. THC poisoning in dogs can also cause them to sway while walking and have lethargy which could cause your dog to have difficulty getting up just to walk to their food dish.
They Lose Control of Their Bladder
If your dog ingests too much THC, it can make them very sleepy and loosen their muscles which can result in them losing control of their bladder.
They Can Become Paranoid
Sometimes dogs can become very paranoid if they ingest too much THC. This can involve them pacing up and down halls or panting heavily. In addition to this, it can also make your dog feel very anxious. Due to this, they might turn into a completely different dog and be irritable, grouchy, and maybe even a little dangerous since they aren’t fully aware of what is going on.