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Dogs getting stoned – fact or fiction?

Marijuana has been ever-present in civilizations all over the planet for thousands of years, being used for both recreational and medical purposes.

Recreational users love to just chill out, get the giggles and the munchies and just generally have a good time enjoying the psychoactive properties of THC. Meanwhile, medical users take cannabis and various extract products for many reasons, from treating potentially life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis to using the plant as an anti-inflammatory, a chronic pain reliever, an anti-anxiety agent and more.

Therefore, dog owners have often wondered whether their canine soulmates could get stoned too – or at least experience marijuana’s therapeutic effects.

Over the past few years, undoubtedly as a result of the increased access thanks to legalization in several states, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has noticed a spike in incidents where dogs, cat and others have been admitted after accidentally consuming marijuana. But what actually happens when a dog takes weed? Well, they do get high, however that’s not necessarily a good thing and you should know the following before considering letting your dog get stoned with you.

What happens when a dog consumes marijuana?

When a dog consumes marijuana, the THC is metabolized and converted into 11-hydroxy-THC, which actually leads to a stronger high than from smoking a joint. The amount taken, the size and weight of the dog, and metabolism all influence the strength and length of the cannabis high.

Moreover, dogs can – to a lesser extent – also get high from your second-hand smoke, so be aware of this when blazing around your four-legged friend.

How does marijuana affect dogs?

Marijuana affects dogs differently to humans. Their cognitive functions are impacted, and the panic from losing balance could induce panting and further distress. The effects begin to kick in 30 minutes to an hour after ingesting, however, as with humans, if inhaling smoke or vapor, it will take hold much quicker. After a few hours the effects will wear off and the dog will be back to normal.

While unusual, it’s possible for the effects to be more severe, with reported incidents of seizures, tremors and vomiting in dogs following marijuana ingestion. In very rare cases, after far too much marijuana consumption, dogs have even died from cannabis toxicosis.

However, there are also anecdotal stories of marijuana helping dogs deal with pain and appetite problems. Some say it can even encourage puppy-like behavior.

But with medical marijuana helping humans with a variety of ailments, the warnings haven’t detracted people from treating their dogs with marijuana products – and there are now a variety of pet-specific products which are much safer for dogs to consume. Edibles are the preferred way to treat dogs for arthritis, epilepsy and other illnesses. A company in the San Francisco Bay Area has even launched a brand of cannabis products especially for pets called Treatibles.

Treatibles are a lot different to regular marijuana, in that they don’t contain any psychoactive THC. Instead, marijuana’s other medical cannabinoid, CBD, takes center stage, alongside other phytocannabinoids and non-psychoactive compounds in oil-based products.

As yet, the American Veterinary Medical Association has not taken a position on using medical marijuana to treat pets, despite studies showing certain products capable of combatting certain ailments. But experts in veterinary circles are debating whether there’s scope for medical marijuana to be prescribed as medication for pets.

Indeed, the famous late “Vet Guru” Dr Doug Kramer started to administer a medical marijuana tincture – designed and made by Kramer himself – to his dog to treat her cancer. The move could have endangered Kramer’s career, but he knew his dog greatly benefited from medical marijuana late in her life.

Kramer also founded Enlightened Veterinary Therapeutics, the first veterinary in America to offer medical marijuana as treatment for pets.

Final thoughts on medical marijuana for dogs

We’ve established that dogs can get stoned and that this generally isn’t a pleasant experience if they consume more than a tiny amount. Therefore, to be on the safe side, it’s best not to give your dog marijuana products with THC – so no pot brownie treats or exhaling smoke in their face.

However, do consider using CBD oil medication if your dog has a severe, treatment-resistant illness. These products are designed for pets and perfectly safe to try. If you are in any doubt, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your local vet – it’s highly unlikely you’ll be the first person to mention it!

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