Cannabis and Our Pets: Understanding the Effects

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By Grace L. Sisti

Dog is man’s best friend and as cannabis users and enthusiasts we often want to share our experiences with our best friends. Although most of us have the best intentions in mind when sharing our love of cannabis with our pets it is important to remember that cannabis effects our canine companions and other furry friends in a vastly different way than it effects us. Although cannabis ingestion can be toxic to our animals there are also new products that have been developed that are very beneficial for them.

While there is not a lot of research that has been done on the beneficial effects of cannabis in canines and other mammals it has been shown that as long as the animals do not ingest a large amount of THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis products) then the animal is mostly safe. There are a lot of people on the internet that claim they have used doses of THC to help their pets with various problems, but most veterinarians, that is those who will admit the benefits of cannabis at all, will tell you to avoid THC exposure to your pets because the adverse effects that can occur from ingestion tend to outweigh the benefits.

As far as adverse effects of cannabis on our furry friends they can range from very mild such as lethargy to extreme such as coma or death although in those cases a very large amount of cannabis containing THC would have to be consumed. Unlike in humans where THC can produce a euphoric and even energetic effect it tends to lend itself to a depressive state for pets. This usually results because of accidental ingestion as opposed to intentional ingestion. That being said do not feed your pets cannabis products that have not been approved for use with pets. In accidental ingestion cases most pets show signs within the first couple hours and these symptoms can last for usually up to 72 hours. Symptoms that can occur due to the ingestion of THC by pets are depression, loss of motor coordination including loss of balance, vomiting, hypothermia, reduced heartbeat, agitation, diarrhea, urinary incontinence, and, like mentioned previously, in severe cases seizures, coma, and even death can occur. THC ingestion by your pet is something that should always be taken seriously. It may be embarrassing to take your dog to the vet for accidental cannabis ingestion, but it is worse for your pet to be in extreme discomfort.

Now the last paragraph may have scared you a little, but that was not my intention in any way. There are a lot of benefits of cannabis for your pet. It’s just not the cannabinoid that we as humans often enjoy. The cannabinoid that most benefits our furry friends is Cannabidiol or CBD as it is more commonly referred to as. CBD is found in both the cannabis and hemp plant among other plants in our ecosystem. It has been shown to have great analgesic (pain relieving), anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, anti-nausea, anti-arthritic, and sedative properties that benefit both our pets and us. Now it is important to remember that research has only been done on the benefits of cannabis to mammals so our scaly and feathered friends will have to wait.

One of the only pet related products on the market right now has been produced by the company Mary’s Medicinals. They are known for producing some of the best products for humans and now they have managed to produce a great CBD product that helps pets. The line is called Mary’s Pets. It is a transdermal gel pen that releases a controlled dose of 1mg of CBD per pump of the pen. The gel has to be applied to the inner ear of your furry friend or any other exposed veinous area that doesn’t have fur on it. Mary’s Pets does recommend that you not use their product on your pets that weigh less than 5 lbs. If you do wish to use it on your smaller pet they ask that you consult your veterinarian first.

Although there can be a lot of adverse effects to cannabis ingestion by pets there are some very beneficial effects as well. Just remember that what makes us happy does not always make our furry friends happy. The key thing to keep in mind with our pets is that CBD is their key ingredient to happiness and if our pets are happy we can be happy. 

Alex PersonComment