Can pets get high from cannabis?

A common question we get here at CBD Vets Australia is: will my pet get high from taking cannabis? The answer is two-fold. If you use medical grade CBD oil sourced from an authorised supplier like CBD Vets Australia, then the answer is no. 

However, if you give your pet illegally sourced cannabis or marijuana ‘edibles’ meant for humans, then your pet can get high. But what’s even more alarming is that this can actually make your pet very sick.   

In this blog, we cover the side effects of different forms of cannabis and how to protect your pet from the dangers of cannabis poisoning.

Using CBD oil in pets

First, it is important to make a clear distinction between CBD oil and other forms of cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is derived from marijuana or hemp plants, but it has very little to no amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that makes us feel high. 

So, if a dog ingests medical-grade CBD oil, they will not suffer from the same side effects that they would if they ingest other forms of cannabis. Instead, CBD oil can be therapeutically very beneficial for your pet and can help treat a variety of conditions from epilepsy, chronic pain to anxiety. 

What forms of cannabis will make my pet high?

According to a new study, most pets get high by consuming edible forms of cannabis (e.g brownies, cookies, muffins).  The research, published in PLOS One, reported on the findings of vets across North America. It showed that cases of poisoning occurred most frequently in dogs, cats, iguanas, ferrets and horses.

Pets can also get accidentally high from:

  • Directly ingesting eating cannabis leaves and/or buds
  • Being exposed to second hand cannabis smoke 

While our pets can get high from these forms of cannabis, it does not mean that it’s okay or that they find the effects enjoyable. These forms of cannabis are unsafe for pets and can be toxic.

What happens to my pet if they consume unsafe cannabis?

How your pet is affected depends on their size as well as the amount of cannabis they consume. Like in people, post-ingestion signs generally appear around 30 to 60 minutes later. 

Even in very small doses, being exposed to unsafe forms of cannabis can cause side effects. Here are some of the warning signs of cannabis poisoning to look out for in your pet:

  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils or glassed over eyes
  • Ataxia (loss of coordination or a ‘wobbly’ walk)
  • Whining or crying
  • Agitation
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hypersensitivity to sound

In severe cases, pets may experience one or more of the following signs:

  • Seizures/tremors
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Respiratory issues (often slowed breathing)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Coma

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s essential to take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. When you know, or suspect, that your pet has ingested unsafe forms of cannabis, do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to tell your vet. A vet’s only priority is to care for your pet, and the best way for them to do that is to know the underlying cause of their symptoms. 

Thankfully, cannabis toxicity can be treated in most cases when proper medical care is provided quickly.

Preventing cannabis poisoning in your pet

If you use cannabis yourself, it’s vital that you never give these products to your pet. Ensure any edibles, leaves or buds are kept safely out of reach from your pet. If you smoke cannabis, try and do so away from your pet to minimise the risk of second-hand inhalation. 

If you think your pet’s health could benefit from cannabis, then it’s important to discuss this with your veterinarian first, or contact us at CBD Vets Australia to find a vet in our network who is knowledgeable of cannabinoid therapies for pets. 

Do not purchase products from black market sources online, as these products are untested and can be dangerous to your pet. 

When sourced from an authorised prescriber, medical grade CBD oil is a non-toxic therapy and it will not make your pet high.  CBD has been researched for a range of actions including being anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anxiety-easing, a muscle relaxant and antioxidant. It is also thought the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD contribute to its action as a neuroprotective.

Contact us today at CBD Vets Australia to talk about whether CBD oil is right for your pet and how we can help you access this treatment safely.  Give our team a call on 02 8294 9303. 

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