According to data from the Pew Research Center, 19 million Americans used marijuana in 2018.
50 percent have at some point in their lives tried marijuana.
And in the opinions of most experts, this number will only rise, as marijuana becomes legal in more parts of the nation.
While this is good news for those wanting to use the drug for recreational or medical purposes, it can be bad news for pets.
The reason is the THC found in marijuana can have devastating physical and psychological effects on pets, particularly dogs.
It must be noted that THC in marijuana is significantly different than CBD in hemp.
What Is THC?
As one of the 113 chemical compounds found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is considered the most potent psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana.
Because of this, even a small amount of THC given to a pet can have serious, if not life-threatening consequences.
In humans, THC sends signals to the human brain leading to a state of euphoria.
It does not have the same effect on our pets.
Since dogs and cats don’t understand what THC is doing, the psychoactive effects lead to panic and fear.
These reactions, coupled with the physical effects that follow, can be devastating to a pet.
Physical Effects Of THC On Pets
Pets will ingest marijuana typically through it’s raw form, like edible cookies or candy.
This leads to a much higher absorption rate compared to inhaling smoke.
Pets will find themselves suffering from a neurological toxicity known as Static Ataxia.
They will get a sensory dysfunction, with symptoms as a loss of coordination of their limbs, head, and trunk.
As a result, they appear to stagger, be in a stupor, and often turn very agitated.
What humans interpret as euphoria is actually a nightmare for pets.
Like humans who may overdose on drugs, dogs and other pets may also experience drug-induced hallucinations by ingesting THC.
Along with appearing to be very frightened and agitated, pets will also drool.
They might stand rigid while rocking back and forth.
Their eyes may be wide open with dilated pupils.
Furthermore, they may be so scared and fearful, they may be unapproachable.
If this is the case, it is imperative the pet be safely handled and transported to a veterinarian immediately.
For pets that do ingest marijuana and thus absorb THC into their systems, the good news is the effects are usually temporary.
However, by temporary this means 12-24 hours, which can feel like a lifetime to a pet and its owner.
Furthermore, they can experience a variety of life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures or slipping into a coma.
So while the effects may be temporary, keep a close eye on them for sudden abnormal changes.
THC in a pet’s system can be extremely dangerous and is not advised.
How Much THC Is Considered A Lethal Dose?
In various studies, researchers have concluded that as little as three grams per kilogram of oral THC is the minimum lethal dose for a pet.
Generally, when a pet ingests marijuana in amounts that may be considered a lethal dose, the effects begin to display themselves within 30-60 minutes.
Because of this, it is imperative the animal receive medical attention as soon as possible, since time is of the essence.
If you at any moment think you should go to the veterinarian, do it.
Why People Give Their Pets Marijuana
Sometimes pets will find a stash, tear open the bag, and eat everything in sight.
Other times pet owners voluntarily give marijuana to their beloved furry companions.
This is especially true of those owners who use medical marijuana.
They figure if the substance helps them feel better, it will do the same for their pet.
Unfortunately, this is flawed reasoning.
For many people, this reasoning stems from the belief that marijuana is a very safe drug to use, and has very little toxicity associated with its use.
That may be true with humans, but not necessarily for pets.
Various Factors Come Into Play
Like humans, dogs and cats come in different shapes and sizes.
Because of this, a variety of factors will come into play that will determine how devastating the effects of a THC overdose will be on your pet.
These factors include the pet’s age, weight, activity level, health issues that may currently be present, and other aspects.
Therefore, never take it for granted that your animal will be fine, especially if it is displaying unusual physical or psychological symptoms.
Instead, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
While using marijuana for medical or recreational purposes can help many humans feel much better in a number of ways, the same cannot be said for our pets.
Therefore, rather than deal with the untimely death of your beloved pet, it is best to keep the marijuana to yourself.
Give Your Pet CBD Instead
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