Is marijuana bad for dogs?

Posted on November 13th, 2020 to hemp education

dogs + THC

We are often asked, “Is THC bad for dogs?” – and although the simple answer is yes, there are some important things you should know. For instance, we know that THC has 10x the effect on dogs as compared to humans, making it potentially dangerous for them to ingest cannabis or even full spectrum CBD oil.

Here we explain why you should avoid giving your dog even the smallest amount of THC, why weed is dangerous for dogs, and the signs of THC intoxication in dogs.

understanding the impacts of THC on canines

It is sometimes tempting to share your CBD oil with your pet. But did you know that dogs and THC do not go well together? Even the tiny amount of THC present in your full spectrum CBD oil can be toxic to your dog.

what is THC?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is one of several cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. THC is best known for causing the “high” associated with recreational cannabis use. THC works by binding to the CB1 receptors in the brain, causing feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

why weed is dangerous for dogs

THC can have negative effects on your furry friend. Like most drugs, the effects of cannabis, and THC specifically, are based on chemistry. When THC enters your dog’s body, it binds to various neuroreceptors in the brain. When this happens, just like in humans, it changes how those neurotransmitters function. THC interacts with neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine.

But, most importantly, THC binds to particular receptors called CB1 receptors, found in the endocannabinoid system. Both you and your dog have these CB1 receptors throughout your bodies, which is why you feel high when using THC, but also why THC is toxic to your dog.

dogs have far more CB1 receptors than humans!

Scientists have found that the number of CB1 receptors in hindbrain structures in dogs far exceed those found in the humans. That means there are many more receptor sites for THC to bind to in a dog’s brain as compared to yours and mine. So, even though cannabis might be fun for you, it is not so much fun for your dog.

When your dog ingests THC, he or she risks developing marijuana toxicosis and static ataxia, the latter of which is a unique neurological reaction to THC in dogs.

looking into negative effects of THC for dogs

Just because it can be tolerable for some dogs does not mean there are not any negative effects of THC usage. Here are symptoms to watch for if your dog ingests THC:

static ataxia

As mentioned, the most common issue when dogs ingest too much cannabis is ataxia. Symptoms of ataxia can be severe and include things like:

  • Weakness in one or more limbs
  • Head tilting
  • Deafness or loss of hearing
  • Dizziness
  • Stumbling or swaying
  • Drowsiness
  • Tremors
  • Abnormal behaviors
  • Strange eye movements
  • Nausea from disruption in equilibrium
  • Loss of appetite

extreme tension

Another common side effect of THC usage in dogs is extreme tension. Although THC is best known for relaxation, paradoxically, THC can cause your dog’s muscles to tense up which can make it hard for him or her to walk. And again, whether your dog will experience ataxia or muscle tension seems to be dependent on the physiological factors and the amount of THC ingested.

disorientation, dizziness & vertigo

Just like in humans, sometimes THC can cause disorientation, dizziness and vertigo in dogs. This can make it difficult for your dog to walk or cause them to sway while walking. These effects of THC intoxication can also lead your dog to feel lethargic and have difficulty getting up just even to walk to their food or water bowl.

excessive drooling & vomiting

You might also see your dog drooling excessively after ingesting cannabis. THC can cause gastrointestinal problems, including nausea and vomiting, that can cause your dog to increase the amount of saliva produced. This can also cause them to stop drinking or eating properly.

loss of bladder control

Another negative effect of dogs ingesting too much THC is urinary incontinence, which is mainly related to THC’s muscle relaxing properties. When your dog ingests too much THC, it can cause them to get very sleepy and loose control of the muscles in the bladder.

paranoia & anxiety

THC is legendary for its ability to make some people feel paranoid and anxious. The same goes for your dog. Some dogs can become very paranoid if they ingest too much THC, making them pace around, bark, cry or yelp, and pant heavily. Similarly, THC induced anxiety can turn your dog into a completely different animal, causing them to be irritable, scared, or even snappy since they are not full aware of what is going on.

abnormal heart rate & tachycardia

An abnormal heart rate such as tachycardia are also common negative side effects of THC for dogs. This is because THC causes excessive stress on your dog’s body, causing it to overwork and making the heart beat quickly and irregularly.

so how toxic is cannabis for dogs, really?

Luckily, cannabis intoxication is seldom fatal for dogs. Some studies suggest that the minimum lethal dose of THC for dogs is around 3 grams per kg of oral THC. And if your dog eats cannabis, its effects begin 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion and can last for up to 36 hours.

But, just like we consider cannabis having a high margin of safety for some people (definitely not all people) the same goes for dogs. Not all dogs follow a single pattern of intoxication with things like differences in age, health status, and body size affecting toxicity. So, where a small amount of THC may affect one dog more than another, it also means there is no official safe dose.

with THC for dogs, we believe it is better to be safe than sorry.

We are very passionate and knowledgeable about CBD for dogs. This is why all of our purelov products are broad spectrum and a 100% THC free. Visit our shop if you are looking for a CBD product that is natural and safe for your dog.

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