Effects Of Marijuana On Dogs
From intentional feeding pot-laced dog treats to accidental devouring of your secret stash, and from licking up weed-laced bong water to inhaling the fumes of vaporized pot, in the canine world, marijuana is a hot topic of debate.
Well…to be honest, even in the human world, the use of marijuana is still considered controversial and taboo. In spite of its reportedly continually increasing popularity, in most places of the world, the state of marijuana use in both dogs and humans is in flux.
Can dogs get high on marijuana?
Just like you and me, dogs can get high too. Dogs get high if they ingest the green and leafy marijuana buds directly or if they ingest edibles “enriched” with marijuana. It should be well-noted that dogs can also get high by inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke. Ultimately, people pass the marijuana’s psychotropic compounds to their dogs through foods, droppings, and secondhand smoke.
What happens if my dog eats marijuana?
Marijuana has cannabinoids, and the dog’s body has cannabinoid receptors—the cannabinoids in the marijuana bind with the cannabinoid receptors in dogs like a lock and key. If not for the cannabinoid receptors, dogs would be immune to the effects of marijuana. However, since dogs have more receptors than humans, they are more sensitive to marijuana’s effects.
In a nutshell, if a dog eats marijuana, its well-distributed network of cannabinoid receptors would be overwhelmed by the cannabinoids, and your dog would become high or stoned.
It should be said that while for most people, the over-the-counter use of marijuana ensures a pleasant experience, for most dogs, it would warrant an expensive trip to the vet’s office. Even if the trip to the vet’s office can be avoided, your dog will definitely taste a “bad trip.”
What are cannabinoid receptors?
“Cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body, are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. Cannabinoid receptors are of a class of cell membrane receptors in the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily.” (Wikipedia)
”What do G protein-coupled receptors do?”
“G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes. These cell surface receptors act like an inbox for messages in the form of light energy, peptides, lipids, sugars, and proteins.” (nature.com)
How do cannabinoid receptors affect dogs?
When compared to humans, dogs have a significantly higher number of cannabinoid receptors distributed in their brains and throughout their bodies. In dogs, there are five different types of cannabinoid receptors, but two types are most frequently distributed:
- CB-1 – found mostly in the brain, lungs, kidneys, and liver. They are essential for regulating processes like pain, nausea, and depression.
- CB-2 – not so densely present as CB-1. They are found primarily in the spleen, immune system, and gastrointestinal system. They are essential for regulating processes like food intake, energy metabolism, seizures, and pain relief.
Cannabinoids have a higher affinity towards CB-2 receptors. Consequently, the fewer CB-2 receptors a dog has, the higher dose of marijuana would be needed to achieve efficacy.
What symptoms will I see if my dog high?
Sadly, you cannot know what effects marijuana would have on your dog until it gets high. Different dogs react differently, and their size and age play an important role in the outcome.
For example, if your seven-year-old, 50-pound Husky, and your ten-month-old, 10-pound Schnauzer found your stash and ate the same amounts of marijuana, their reactions will be significantly different.
Generally speaking, if a dog gets high, it will probably show the following signs and symptoms:
- Breathing problems
- Urinary incontinence
- Low blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Loss of balance
- Dilated pupils
When high, most dogs become overly paranoid, which manifests with excessive panting and pacing. A paranoid dog could either withdraw from a person if approached or become aggressive. Care should be taken when approaching an affected dog.
Does marijuana affect my dog’s brain, heart, and other organs?
Marijuana affects several internal organs on different levels. First of all, it affects the brain and the peripheral nervous system causing behavioral changes, wobbliness, and seizures. Marijuana affects the lungs leading to breathing issues and the cardiovascular system causing abnormal heart rate and rhythm as well as altered blood pressure. It also affects the liver, kidneys, and muscle fibers.
How long can my dog be high?
The length of your canine’s trip varies based on three important factors:
- how much marijuana it ingested or inhaled;
- the method a dog was affected;
- the dog’s body weight.
Based on the above-listed factors, dogs can stay high for as little as three hours or for as long as 24 hours.
Is marijuana poisonous to dogs?
Well, the marijuana itself is not toxic, but its psychoactive component – THC has potent toxic properties. To answer the question above, “yes,” marijuana can be poisonous to dogs.
If used in larger quantities or more frequently than prescribed, marijuana can be poisonous to dogs. To be more precise, the minimal dose that leads to intoxication signs is 84.7 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The lethal dose is 3 grams per kilogram of body weight.
A dog with marijuana poisoning will exhibit the following signs and symptoms:
- Severe depression or hyperactivity
- Low blood pressure
- Low heart rate
- Drunk walk
- Enlarged pupils
- Excessive excitability
- Body tremors
If you think your dog swallowed a poisonous amount of marijuana or is already exhibiting the above-listed signs, do not hesitate to act quickly and call either your trusted vet or Animal Poison Control.
Marijuana poisoning can be fatal in small-sized dogs, puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with pre-existing medical conditions.
My dog ate a lot of cannabutter…
Cannabutter is a special type of butter infused with cannabis. It is used to prepare cannabis edibles such as cookies and brownies. Cannabutter contains the non-mind-altering compound cannabidiol (CBD) and the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Cannabutter is particularly dangerous for dogs because its manufacturing process includes heat and the heat alters its main compounds (CBD and THC).
If your dog ate cannabutter, do not hesitate to contact your trusted vet as soon as possible.
What to do if my dog is high?
As previously stated, accidents happen, and dogs can get high. In most cases, getting high is not a life-threatening danger, but it is definitely a distressing experience. Therefore, if your canine baby gets high, there are two things you need to do:
- Seek professional help
- If the accident happened just now and your dog is not showing any signs yet, contact your vet, local animal ER, or animal poison control hotline.
- If the accident happened a while ago and your dog has started showing signs, get to your vet’s office or animal ER as soon as possible.
- Be honest about the exposure – hiding the truth will not help your dog. Your vet can objectively help only if well-aware of what actually happened. Hiding the truth will misguide your vet and aggravate your dog’s health or even put its life at risk.
What is the treatment?
More often than not, the treatment is quite simple – it includes allowing the dog to sleep the effects off in an enclosed space free from intense light and excessive noises. Meanwhile, the dog should be kept well-hydrated by administering intravenous fluids. When stoned, small dogs are particularly prone to hypothermia (low body temperature) and should be kept warm.
When dealing with regular marijuana ingestion, vomiting is rarely induced. However, if the dog ate pot-lanced edibles containing other toxins such as chocolate or xylitol, vomiting may actually be helpful.
All in all, the recovery period usually takes between 12 and 24 hours. In some cases, it may take as much as three days.
Does the dog’s behavior become aggressive when high?
When under the influence of certain forms of marijuana, the dog’s behavior can become quite unpredictable. Normally sweet-tempered and gentle dogs can turn into aggression.
However, in such situations, dogs are not to blame. The marijuana takes its toll and temporarily changes the dog’s personality. Fortunately, as the marijuana’s effects start wearing off, your dog’s old personality will resurface.
Is the effect of marijuana in my dog dangerous for my children or around children?
As stated, while high, dogs are unpredictable. They are easily agitated and tend to over-react. Therefore, they should not be trusted around children.
The final verdict
Due to the lack of studies, we cannot say with 100% accuracy whether marijuana is good or bad for dogs. Perhaps, the correct answer lies somewhere in between.
Namely, if appropriately used, consciously, and as instructed, marijuana can be beneficial for dogs the same as it is for humans. On the other hand, it can have detrimental effects on your dog’s overall health and well-being if used irresponsibly.
So…to legalize it or not to legalize it? Chances are you are more thrilled by this question than your dog. However, the answer affects you both.
Dogs are voracious eaters, and if given a chance, they will take a bite (or seven) out of your secret stash. So, be responsible and keep your secret stash in a remote place.
YouTube: Marijuana – The Effects in You vs Your Dog – The Bow Tie Vet Man
YouTube: Marijuana Poisoning In Dogs – Dangerous Signs And Treatment – McCann Dog Training
YouTube: Watch The Effect Marijuana Has On Dogs After They Find Owners Stash – Inside Edition