Here’s What's Really Happening To Your Dog When It's High On Weed
Plus, when to reach out to your vet.
Marijuana is great for kicking back and relaxing, having a great laugh with pals, or watching 87 episodes of Phineas and Ferb in one sitting. However, a smoke sesh may suddenly turn stressful when you realize your dog got into your stash and ends up high, too, especially if you’ve never seen it happen before. From edibles to old blunts, and even the actual buds themselves, dogs sometimes get a little curious and eat the remnants of your last smoke break. Understandably, if this happens, you’d probably freak out a bit, frantically texting your BFF things like, “Can my dog die from weed?!?! I left my grinder open on the table!” You might wonder if you’ll need to take your dog to the emergency room or if you should just wait it out until the cannabis is out of their system.
While your BFF may not have the best answers, a veterinarian will. Elite Daily spoke to Dr. Sarah Brandon, veterinarian and CEO of Canna Companion — which is a company that provides hemp supplements for cats and dogs suffering from chronic pain — to find out exactly how marijuana affects dogs, whether it’s an emergency if they ingest it, and everything else a dog owner may want to know about dogs and weed.
Can Dogs Die From Weed?
In the past six years, the Pet Poison Hotline saw a 448% increase in marijuana-related cases due to the growing legalization of pot across the United States. However, if you’re wondering if a dog can actually die from weed, the answer is a little more complicated. “Technically, it's possible but highly unlikely,” Brandon says. ”It is more likely that with severe toxicity, the dog would vomit and asphyxiate on the vomit.”
“The THC itself has a very high fatal dose (aka, the amount that causes severe respiratory depression), which means ingesting the flower isn't likely to cause death by a long shot,” Brandon says. Despite the low likelihood of fatality, it’s always best to make contact with your vet if you suspect your dog decided to check out your pot.
“As a general rule, no matter how much your dog ingested, call your veterinarian or a nearby veterinary emergency hospital ASAP. Let them know exactly what you think occurred,” Dr. Brandon says. This way, they can give you the best direction possible for your specific situation and let you know if they think a trip to the emergency vet is warranted.
While it’s quite unlikely for marijuana to be fatal for your pooch, this doesn’t mean you should be careless with your stash. To be on the safe side, always make sure it’s out of paw’s reach.
“Prevention is the best medicine. Just like other supplements, prescription medications, certain foods, and small ingestible objects (that could get lodged in the GI tract), keep your marijuana stash in a closed cabinet away from curious noses and paws,” Brandon says.
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is High?
Brandon says the way that dogs experience cannabis is the same as humans do, complete with all the pros and cons. However, their understanding of the experience is different, which can cause it to be a negative one. “[Dogs] do get high if enough THC is administered, and they don't generally like it. They do not understand why sounds and sights are sharper, and their ability to focus is different,” she says.
The intensity of their trip can vary, but in most cases involving smoke inhalation or ingesting edibles, they're not feeling too great. “Similarly, if they experience wobbliness and other gait abnormalities, this can really scare them. Once anxiety sits in, they will pace, hide, pant, have increased heart rates, etc. Again, toxic effects are seen at much lower dosages: sedation, respiratory depression, wobbliness, low heart rate,” she says.
Depending on how much marijuana is ingested, dogs can stay high anywhere from three to 24 hours. If your dog is high and experiencing anxiety, Brandon recommends turning down the lights, putting on calming music, and making their favorite spot to relax as comfortable and enticing as possible.
Should Dogs Ever Be Exposed To Marijuana On Purpose?
The effects of cannabis on a dog depends on its size, but a dog should never be exposed to any kind of cannabis for at least the first eight months of life. During that time, their brains are still developing, and any type of contact can lead to complications later in life.
Can Medical Marijuana Help Dogs?
Despite this, sometimes cannabis can be beneficial to dogs. Many owners give their dogs some form of cannabis to help with medical conditions like seizures, eating disorders, immobility, and even anxiety, especially as they get older. However, it should be noted again that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can be harmful to dogs. As such, CBD and hemp are the canine cannabis products of choice.
When it comes to CBD, there are a number of benefits associated. “The GI tract and immune system are also highly responsive to CBD administration, and supplementation often results in improved quality of life, no matter the underlying condition,” Brandon explains.
Additionally, just like humans, dogs can suffer from chronic pain and need to be treated for it. Many dogs in their golden years have found relief from specialized marijuana products for pets and one study pointed to the potential of CBD helping relieve pain associated with canine osteoarthritis.
Besides CBD, hemp can also be helpful cannabis treatment for dogs. “Hemp is a great supplement for joint mobility and works well alone or alongside prescription medications. Similarly, emotional imbalances, like noise phobias and separation anxieties, respond well to cannabis therapy,” Brandon says.
With the U.S. marijuana industry projected to net up to $18 billion by the end of 2021, pet care products are quickly becoming a part of the consumer market. Many edible companies are already catering to pets and companies like Dixie Brands are developing new CBD pet treats to heal cats and dogs.
What Should Pet Owners Look For In Canine Cannabis Products?
First and foremost, always ask your vet for their recommendations for how to best manage your dog’s anxiety and other health issues. They know your dog’s health situation best, so it is wise to always get their go-ahead before adding any supplements to your dog’s care regimen, especially when it comes to cannabis.
If your vet does think canine CBD, for example, is a good idea, there are a number of things to look out for when finding a quality product for your doggie, such as a stamp that says COA on the packaging. COA is short for certificate of analysis, and it essentially lists exactly what is in your product when it is bottled. It can be found on the label or on the company’s website. If it’s absent from either, you should buy from a different seller.
“First make sure the product is for pets and has been proven to be clean via batch-associated COA. The COA should indicate the product is free of harmful microbes, pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxin, and residual solvents,” Brandon says. “Furthermore, the COA should be fairly close to what the company claims in the product. If the company says there's 2.5% CBD, then the COA should reflect ~2.25-2.75% CBD content. Testing isn't exact in this industry so some variation is acceptable.”
Besides COA, it’s also important to do your research on the company itself. If the website looks unprofessional and the representatives aren’t willing to discuss their product with you or your vet, it’s best to steer clear.
Dr. Sarah Brandon, Canna Companion
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