Marijuana has something of a bad reputation, and even though the legalization of cannabis is helping people to see how it can be a good product if used appropriately, it is still pretty safe to say that there is a lot of tension regarding its use. And, as the number of states legalizing cannabis use continues to grow, there is also being seen a rise in the number of people who are looking into how their cannabis use, or how cannabis in general, could be either beneficial or hazardous for their beloved pets as well.
This is a fair concern for people to have, of course; a large dog, “high” on cannabis, is a sight that not many people want to have in their mind’s eye, and the potential implications of such a scenario playing out could be grave. Furthermore, what about the impact on the animal itself? Could giving your dog cannabis and hemp-based treats, for example, be good for him, or could doing so lead to a number of other implications for his own health and well being?
All of these are important questions, especially as the range of products for pets which include cannabis in their preparation increase. So… what is the impact of marijuana on our beloved four-legged friends, and should cannabis be given to dogs, or should it instead be avoided in favor of other health supplements and treats?
Table of Contents
Understanding Cannabis: The Chemicals Behind the High
When it comes to considering whether or not cannabis supplements and treats are safe for our dogs, it is first important that you know about the effects cannabis can have on a person, and what causes these effects. The most obvious of cannabis’ effects, of course, is that of getting “high”. When a person is high on marijuana, they tend to experience a number of other feelings and sensations: these can include a relaxed state and feeling happy and carefree, although other side effects are also known about such as nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and hallucinations.
Therefore, it can be said that being high on cannabis can make us both immensely happy and incredibly distressed. The ways in which a person responds to marijuana use will vary from individual to individual types and be influenced by numerous factors.
But what is it in cannabis that causes such a powerful reaction in us, whether good or bad? Well, the chemical in marijuana that is responsible for this sensation is a cannabinoid compound known as THC. As a psychoactive compound, and the most prevalent psychoactive compound in cannabis, the consumption of THC can have a number of implications and if consumed in adequate doses, will result in the sensation of being high. Some strains of cannabis are even bred for high THC content, with THC contents of around 30% being not uncommon nowadays.
However, THC is far from the only cannabinoid compound found in cannabis; in fact, there are actually 113 different cannabinoids that have been identified in marijuana. Another one of these cannabinoids is CBD – and CBD is often regarded as being the “good” compound. Unlike THC, CBD is not a psychedelic compound and so will not result in the consumer getting high, however, it does have numerous health benefits making it popular for consumption by medicinal users.
The most widely consumed strain of medicinal cannabis is known as Hemp. Hemp is bred for a high CBD content and a low level of THC, meaning that it can provide the health benefits without the potentially unwelcome high.
Can Dogs Eat Marijuana?
So, we know that THC is a psychedelic compound and that it is the compound primarily responsible for causing us to get high when we take marijuana. But what about our beloved pooches? How do they cope with THC consumption – what effects does it have on them?
The primary difference which will determine whether or not your dog has a reaction to the cannabis he has consumed is in regard to the form that he ate the cannabis in. If your dog happened to eat a cannabis plant that you were growing for your own use, for example, or even if he ate a bag of already harvested cannabis buds, chances are that he wouldn’t have any reaction to it at all due to the fact that the THC would be inactivated. However, if your dog should happen to eat marijuana which does contain THC that is active (decarboxylated), such as in the form of an edible product, or a tincture, then the consequences would definitely be seen by you.
Typically, dogs won’t get the same euphoric sensation from eating THC that humans do, meaning that the symptoms you will see in your dog will be more on the distressed side. Typically, dogs will act lethargic and have a low heart rate, and maybe wobbly in their walking. They may also drink large quantities of water and have noticeably dilated pupils. In rare cases, active THC can even be toxic for dogs and could cause seizures or death – making it important that you seek veterinary support immediately if you suspect that your dog might have gotten into your own stash.
So, Is Marijuana Toxic For Dogs Then?
At this point, you likely have come to the conclusion that allowing your dog any form of marijuana is going to be bad for him – however, this is not entirely the case. Indeed, there are a number of different factors that play into whether marijuana is toxic to dogs.
First of all, it’s important to consider the quantity of marijuana that your dog consumes. If your dog only gets a small amount of it then the chances are, the results of this probably won’t be toxic – although you may still want to keep your dog away from THC containing products due to the side effects that he may experience.
In addition to this, considering the THC content of the marijuana that your dog has consumed, as well as the active status of the THC, is also important. If the THC wasn’t activated – for example, if your dog ate a cannabis flower, the chances again are in his favor for not having any side effects, or very mild ones if he does. Furthermore, if your dog ate a product that didn’t contain THC as a result of it being a medicinal marijuana-based product, he should again be fine; while dogs don’t respond well to THC, generally, CBD can actually be good for their health.
Finally, your dog’s size will also have a big role to play in the level of toxicity. After all, a big dog will usually be able to handle eating far more cannabis than a small dog would be capable of.
What About CBD?
So, we’ve clarified already that THC can have a number of implications for your dog. Unlike in humans, the symptoms of being “high” in dogs are generally not happy, euphoric ones, and are instead disorientating and distressing for him, so this should be avoided at all costs. However, what about CBD? Is CBD, as a cannabinoid compound, also off the cards for dogs, or could the health benefits that CBD offers humans potentially also be relevant for our four-legged friends?
In short? Yes – CBD can definitely be of benefit for your beloved canine friend, and for more than one way.
The number of CBD containing products which are available on the market for people to buy is growing rapidly as people discover the health benefits that CBD can offer. This is true for the human food and supplement industry, but it is also the case in the pet supplement industry. In fact, specialist CBD containing products are even now available in some of the biggest specialist pet stores for members of the public to buy.
But do these CBD products work? With all of the claims that manufacturers make about their efficacy, what should you believe?
Distinguishing Between Pure and Impure Products
When it comes to giving your dog CBD supplements, it is important that you approach the topic with the same level of care that you ought to apply if buying these products for yourself. And, as part of this, one of the most important things you should consider is that of the purity of the product.
But what does this mean? Well, CBD is found in all cannabis plants, regardless of their THC content. This means that any marijuana plant can be used to harvest CBD from – but for the purest CBD extract, hemp plants should be used. Hemp has been bred to have virtually no THC content, which means that the extract contains as much pure CBD as possible and as little psychedelic THC as possible. However, if you are buying a product for your pet (or you!) that has been made from CBD derived from a non-medicinal cannabis plant, you could be putting your dog at risk of getting high due to impurities caused by THC in the extract. And, as we’ve already clarified, THC is not something that you want to be giving to your dog.
So, the key thing to take from this is that it’s important you do your research. Don’t just buy any CBD product for your pet; try to choose one that’s as pure as possible and won’t cause your dog to get high.
How CBD Can Benefit Your Dog
So far, we’ve been talking about whether your dog can consume CBD safely – but should they be doing so? Are there health benefits to giving your dog CBD, or would you be better sticking with your current brand of treats and supplements for him instead?
Well, yes. There are actually a number of ways in which CBD supplements can be used to promote good health in your dog – and, unlike THC’s effects, these are quite similar to the effects that we see in people taking CBD supplements.
Arguably the most notable benefit that CBD seems to be able to offer for dogs is that of anxiety control and reduction. For many dog owners, giving their dog a small amount of CBD prior to a stressful experience, such as being left alone or going on a long drive or plane ride, can be a good way to help ease their nervousness and keep them calm. This, in turn, can obviously also promote good behavior and help prevent behaviors such as aggression or destructiveness which could be a result of a stressful environment.
As well as being good for stress management, CBD supplementation for dogs can also be useful if your dog suffers from pain and inflammation. This is a condition that affects many dogs these days, especially elderly dogs suffering from conditions such as arthritis. For these dogs, CBD supplements can be used to help ease the pain of the condition without the side effects that certain pain medications can cause for the animal.
Sourcing CBD for Your Dog
If you think that your dog could benefit from CBD supplements then it is important that you choose a product that will be right for him. CBD supplements for dogs can come in a wide variety of different forms, with some of the most popular including treats and chews for dogs and oils. Nuleaf Naturals, Medterra, and Gree Roads are some of the leading names for CBD, which you can check.
Treats and chews are practical options for on-the-go relief from pain or nervousness and their tasty flavor makes them popular choices. Meanwhile, CBD oils can be a great way of giving a dog who needs more long term supplementation with CBD, perhaps for pain management, their dose; these oils usually come with dosage instructions, and the oil can simply be drizzled over the pet’s meal, or mixed in, to allow him to get the appropriate dose of supplement to yield beneficial effects. In addition to this, for dogs who need CBD for pain relief, CBD creams are also available which can be applied directly to the painful region in order to provide your canine friend with relief from pain easily and without fuss; however, this method may not be effective for all dogs as some dogs may attempt to lick the cream, and while this should cause no harmful side effects if you have bought a genuine product, it will reduce the cream’s effectiveness.
Though giving your dog straight cannabis is likely to cause issues, if the marijuana contains activated THC anyway, there are plenty of CBD products and supplements made specifically for man’s best friend that can help with pain relief and anxiety in your pet. These products come in numerous different forms, the three most popular include treats, concentrated oils, and creams, and can be highly effective, affordable, and simple options for keeping your dog healthy and happy.