Can Dogs Get High?
For those who administer CBD products to their pets, or for those who smoke or vape THC products in the presence of their dogs, it may be important to know if dogs can get high from cannabis products. Since dogs can't speak, it's crucial to know the signs and symptoms, and what to expect.
Can Dogs Get High?
The short answer is that yes, dogs can get high. Like humans, dogs have cannabis receptors in their cells, and respond to marijuana products. A dog can potentially get high from secondhand smoke, or from consumption of THC edibles designed to get a person high.
While dogs can get high like people do, they experience the effects of THC very differently. The sensations are different, more intense, and disorienting for dogs, and it is a very distressing experience. Being high is neither enjoyable nor safe for a dog.
The Difference Between CBD and THC Products
Most CBD products, particularly those designed for pets, have no THC at all. Both compounds are naturally found in marijuana, and are very similar in chemical structure. However, THC is the cannabinoid compound that causes the psychoactive effects of marijuana, because it bonds better to the cannabis receptors in our brains. CBD bonds to the cannabis receptors in our bodies, producing a feeling of relaxation and pain relief, without the effects on our minds and thoughts.
Because of their common origin, CBD products can be derived from marijuana plants, or from hemp plants. Because of differences in cultivation, CBD products derived from hemp tend to have high concentrations of CBD with little or no THC. CBD products derived from marijuana tend to have lower levels of CBD, with potentially some level of THC.
When purchasing CBD products for medical treatment of a pet, it is important to research the product carefully and determine the product's origin and quality, in order to understand the effects, side effects, and risk of overdose.
What are the Risks of a THC Overdose In a Dog?
There are a few ways that a dog may be accidentally overexposed to THC. The most common ways are:
While a small amount of smoke in a ventilated room is very unlikely to harm a dog, it is possible, in a small, smoky area, for the dog to inhale more smoke than is healthy for them.
Overeating CBD pet treats
It is possible that a dog may get into a treat container and overeat their pet treats. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and may be highly motivated to overeat CBD dog treats. This is unlikely to pose a serious health risk for a dog, depending on the ingredients and concentration of cannabinoids in the treats, and the amount consumed.
Consumption of THC edibles for humans. This scenario poses the greatest risk of overdose for a dog. Human foods often contain ingredients that are unhealthy for dogs to begin with, and edibles contain a more concentrated, psycho-effective form of THC than dried marijuana plants. Also, most dogs have less of an ability to regulate their appetites, and may consume very large quantities of edibles before they are stopped.
What are the Signs of THC Overdose in a Dog?
When administered for medical purposes, CBD products can have some common side effects that pet owners should be aware of. The most common side effects of higher dosages of CBD are often:
Sleepiness or drowsiness
The dog may show signs of being sleepy or drowsy, and have lowered energy for a while after treatment.
Dogs may show an increased desire to drink water after treatment.
These side effects are common with CBD products, and, if the symptoms are mild, should not cause concern. However, here are some of the most common signs of an overdose:
- Staggering, uneven walking
- Loss of balance, as in falling over when sitting or standing still
- Wide, dilated pupils
- Being easily startled
- Dribbling urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Low heart rate
- Low blood pressure
These symptoms may indicate an accidental overdose, and should not be ignored.
What to Do When a Dog Overdoses on THC?
If your dog shows a few of the above signs and symptoms, and you suspect an overdose on THC or CBD, here's what to do.
Identify the source
It's crucial to immediately identify whether your dog has overdosed on, for example, CBD dog treats, or human THC edibles. If your dog has eaten human TCH edibles, take them to the vet immediately, and be honest about your concern, even if you are in a state where those products are illegal. Your vet cannot properly diagnose your dog and advise the right treatment if they don't have accurate information about the situation.
Observe the dog closely
If your dog has overeaten CBD treats, and shows signs of sleepiness and loss of balance, observe the dog closely. If the dog's symptoms worsen over the course of the next hour or two, take them to the vet. If the dog shows signs of “sleeping it off,” allow them to do so, but remain observant of their condition.
If the dog has several of the above symptoms, including nausea, urinating, and appears to be in distress, take them to the vet even if you believe they have overdosed on non-toxic CBD products. The dog may need medical treatment and observation that will help them recover more quickly.
Always use CBD products for dogs under the advice of your veterinarian, and use recommended treatment methods and dosages. Used properly, CBD products can help a dog live a longer, happier, healthier life, without the distress or anxiety of psychoactive ingredients that may harm a dog. And always be aware of how your CBD and THC products are stored, to prevent accidental overdoses and protect the health and wellbeing of your best friend.