Would you give your child THC to silence him? Of course not. Then you might want to think twice before giving weed to your dog. This article looks at the benefits, side effects, toxicity, and lethality of CBD and THC, the two main compounds in dog herbs.
IS WEED BAD FOR DOGS?
Grass is generally harmful to dogs in the sense that it can cause serious side effects and even death. However, there are several medical situations where the benefits may outweigh the risks.
THC has the same intoxicating effect on dogs as it does on humans. However, dogs cannot understand this experience, so they are more likely to get upset. They also cannot consent to recreational drug use.
Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, and Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, wrote that dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains, making the effects of cannabis more extreme. Thus, only a small amount of THC is required to cause toxicity in dogs.
There may be some situations where THC products are appropriate for dogs, usually where the benefits outweigh the risks. Some examples of this would be when the only other option is a pharmaceutical drug with serious side effects, and dog weed can provide similar relief with fewer negative effects. This should always be under the guidance of a veterinarian.
EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA ON DOGS
Marijuana may have some positive effects on dogs, such as appetite stimulation, pain relief, and vomiting reduction. However, they can quickly be overshadowed by the negative side effects of THC, the physioactive compound in marijuana. Even small amounts of THC can cause many negative side effects in dogs, as they are more sensitive to cannabinoids than we are.
The effects of marijuana on dogs can occur in a variety of ways. For example, weed may be accidentally omitted, the dog may be in a room with someone who smokes marijuana, or the owner may intentionally drug the dog. Whichever scenario happens, studies show that most dogs will have adverse reactions to a surprisingly low dose of THC.
Fortunately, these side effects tend to be short-lived, but we don’t fully know the long-term effects of dogs and THC.
CBD is another important component of the cannabis plant. Generally, veterinarians recommend CBD products over THC products because studies show that dogs can tolerate very high doses of CBD with minimal negative side effects. It also has a long list of possible benefits, which we will describe in the following tables.
Mild Side Effects Table
|THC Mild Side Effects||CBD Mild Side Effects|
Severe Side Effects Table
|THC Severe Side Effects||CBD Severe Side Effects|
Potential Benefits Table
|THC Potential Benefits||CBD Potential Benefits||CBD Potential Benefits Cont.|
|Appetite Stimulation||Anti-Depressant||Offset Anxiety|
|Nourish Brain Cells||Anti-Inflammatory/ Arthritis||Pain Relief|
|Pain Relief||Antioxidant||Reduce Stress and Anxiety|
|Reduces Vomiting||Assist in severe forms of Epilepsy||Treat Insomnia|
The three tables above show that THC has more mild and severe side effects than CBD. They also show that CBD for dogs has more potential benefits than THC in treating several different ailments.
In a safety-specific CHE investigation in dogs (17), CBD-only doses up to 62 mg/kg resulted in no adverse events, whereas ascending doses of THC (up to 49 mg/kg) or CBD and THC (up to 12 + 8 mg/kg, respectively) resulted in increasing and medically significant neurologic adverse effects.
IS THC TOXIC TO DOGS?
THC is toxic to dogs. The actual degree of toxicity varies between dogs of different ages, health conditions, and body sizes.
In recent years, medical THC has been noted to be stronger and may be more toxic than its predecessors. The Center for Animal Poison Control reported that in the first couple of months of 2019, calls related to the use of marijuana by pets skyrocketed by 765% compared to the same period in 2018. In addition, Dr. Carlton Giles found a positive relationship between an increase in cases of marijuana toxicity in dogs and an increase in medical marijuana licenses.
Symptoms of marijuana toxicity in dogs appear 30–60 minutes after ingestion, and possibly earlier if inhaled, potentially lasting up to 24 hours or more depending on the amount of the accidental dose.
The following table shows a single dose of THC (0.1mg/kg) where 50% of dogs experienced excessive pupillary constriction, 20% vomited, and 20% lost coordination.
Toxic Dose Table
|Size of Dog (lbs)||Marijuana Flower (20%THC) in grams||Concentrate (Shatter, Crumble, Wax) (80% THC) in gram||CBD Oil w/ (0.3% THC) in grams|
There aren’t any studies showing the effects of THC at lower dosages, but we think it’s safe to assume that if 50% of dogs are showing visible signs of intoxication at this dose, they are encountering intoxication at a much lower amount, which means that, yes, it is possible that your dog could be intoxicated after taking a reasonable dose of a full spectrum CBD product with 0.3% THC.
The AHVMA conducted a large survey of 600 pet parents using full-spectrum CBD oil for dogs. The side effects indicate that dogs can get visibly high from CBD oils containing close to 0.3% THC. More than 30% reported their dogs had dry mouth, lethargy, and increased appetite. More concerning was that 20% reported panic reactions, and more than 3% perceived an increase in seizures.
CAN WEED KILL DOGS?
It’s unlikely that weed will kill a dog, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, especially for small breeds. What is more likely is that your dog will have an adverse reaction to a dose that is about ten thousand times less than lethal.
According to Alameda Eastern Veterinary Hospital, the minimum lethal oral dose of THC for dogs is 3g/kg. This means that a 30-pound dog needs to ingest 39 grams of pure THC to get a lethal dose.
Because cannabis is commonly ingested or inhaled, the lethal dose of cannabis flower for a 30-pound dog is 195 grams. That’s more than a quarter of a pound of stuff a dog needs to eat. THC percentages vary between strains, so be even more careful if you have a weed that contains more than 20% THC.
In the case of concentrates, marijuana is distilled to its concentrated form and the lethal dose is much lower due to the higher percentage of THC available. In this case, a product containing 80 percent THC would require 48.75 grams of concentrate to potentially cause death in a 30-pound dog.
Lethal Dose Marijuana Table
Below is a table displaying the minimum lethal doses of marijuana in flower and concentrate form.
|Size of Dog (lbs)||Marijuana Flower (20%THC) in grams||Concentrate (Shatter, Crumble, Wax) (80% THC) in gram|
The above table may surprise some. Unfortunately, a one pound dog can only eat seven grams of marijuana flower or 2 grams of marijuana concentrate and potentially have a fatal reaction.
On the other hand, a 150 lb dog would need 1023 grams of marijuana flower or 256 grams of THC concentrate for a possible lethal dose.
These tables show the extreme care to be taken when marijuana is around small breed dogs.
The most likely scenario for a dog’s death is eating foods containing caffeine, chocolate, garlic, grapes and raisins, onions, or xylitol. Medicinal foods and marijuana products in general should be placed where the dog cannot reach them.
Another example of a dog dying from THC is the scenario that Dr. Dorrie Black discusses. She wrote that THC can put a dog to sleep so badly that it will inhale its own vomit, which can be fatal. In contrast, CBD oil for dogs containing zero percent THC is not fatal to dogs. Consuming large amounts of CBD can cause toxicity, but it never killed.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG INGESTS THC?
Treatment for marijuana poisoning in dogs is based on the severity of the symptoms presented. If your dog is showing mild symptoms, home treatment may be available. Mild side effects of THC are dilated pupils, confusion, hyperactivity, excessive salivation, urinary incontinence, and vomiting. If you know your dog has taken a non-lethal amount of THC, make sure the dog is safe, comfortable, and getting enough fluids.
In severe cases, take your dog to an emergency animal clinic or veterinarian if available. Symptoms of severe THC poisoning include aggression, CNS (central nervous system) depression, coma, convulsions, tremors, and respiratory depression. Treatment for severe THC poisoning includes IV fluids, medications, liquids, and possibly induced vomiting.
We warn you to be careful and protect your dogs from anything you give your puppy. Marijuana isn’t the only thing people consume that isn’t considered safe for dogs.
In general, always keep your marijuana out of your dog’s reach. If you are enjoying a smoking form of cannabis and your dog is nearby, make sure you are in a ventilated area and they are not exposed to tons of smoke (of any kind). Don’t box your dog. Be sure to store buds and food out of their reach in an airtight container. In this regard, it is worth remembering how strong dogs’ noses are and how smart they are to get into things on the counters, in closets, etc. And here’s another risk that you may not have thought about: human feces. There have been many official reports of marijuana toxicity in dogs as a result of ingesting THC-contaminated human feces.