Can Dogs Get High?

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re probably accustomed to the idea of humans experiencing certain sensations after encounters with medical marijuana. Some of you may have already tried it, and had different reactions and side effects. However, it’s difficult to pinpoint why the said substance leads to certain sensations on the human body, and in our feature’s case, even to dogs.

Marijuana smoke has several different short-term effects on humans, and some of them are as follows:

* Short-term memory problems
* Severe anxiety or paranoia
* Very strange behavior
* Panic
* Hallucinations
* Lowered reaction time
* Sexual problems (for males)

In severe cases, it can also cause long-term effects, such as the following:

* Decline in IQ
* Impaired thinking and ability to learn and perform complex tasks
* Lower life satisfaction
* Addiction
* Antisocial behavior

If this is the first time you are reading about a feature focusing on marijuana and its effects, then you’re most probably wondering how is it that such a plant can be capable of altering perceptions and provide inexplainable emotions for both humans and our four-legged friends.

The answer lies in the components present in the said hemp plants. But just like any substance you put into your mouth or any element you inhale for this matter, has a gradual process before the effects fully take control of your body, if you let it.

A study walks us through the process, and the said step-by-step occurrent is more popularly known to pharmacologists as ADME (Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Elimination).

Here is how it works:

Absorption

It is said that right after your first puff, tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, which is a crystalline compound known for being the main active ingredient of cannabis that triggers the “high” sensation), gradually makes its way to the bloodstream within minutes at an estimated concentration of 10% – 30%. It’s important to know that THC is the one responsible for all those different sensations that people who use marijuana recreationally describe. Additionally, it also increases dopamine levels, creating that sense of euphoria.

Distribution

It helps to know that THC is highly lipophilic (it has a certain fondness for fatty tissues). Frequent use or intake of weed will sure to accumulate THC in fatty tissues, and it ends up being present in all the major organs, including the brain. Being a chronic user, despite inhaling a small amount daily, can lead THC and its components to remain in fat for even up to 30 days.

Metabolism

THC is metabolized mainly in the liver, using many of the same hepatic enzymes which are used to metabolize certain medications. THC gathers these enzymes, potentially leaving your prescribed medications far fewer enzymes to metabolize them. This is critical for populations on many medications, such as the elderly or the chronically ill.

Elimination

Estimates of how long  THC remains in the body may of course vary, from as few as 6 minutes to 22 hours. Eventually, THC is broken down and excreted in urine and stool.

Quite a process, right?

Now that you have a brief overview of the effects of marijuana products and how they are processed and eliminated inside the human body, let’s now proceed to the topic at hand: can dogs get high?

The simple (yet surprising answer), is yes.

Now while as marijuana exposure has different effects on humans, for dogs, the effects of cannabis have this high tendency to be similar.

Since we are responsible dog owners existing in a world where marijuana is increasingly culturally acceptable and even common, we need to be made aware of how cannabis products can have potential benefits (if any) on your pooch, and how we can avoid some of the harmful and possibly lethal effects of cannabis on your fur baby.

We’ve already tackled the effects of medical marijuana on humans. Since our bodies are not similar to dogs, they often have different reactions. In fact, their experience with marijuana can be felt even more intensely compared to ours, and in some cases, they might even require medical attention.

golden retriever

The Signs

Now you’re probably unsure if you’re dog already has an intake of marijuana. Here are some of the signs that you may want to observe:

* Walking like they’re drunk (or high)
* Falling over while standing still
* Low blood pressure
* Low heart rate
* Easily startled by sudden sounds
* Dilated pupils

If any of the common signs mentioned are visible, then it can be safe to assume that your pooch has in fact had contact with marijuana.

Since we are on the topic, it’s important to know that unlike humans, dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains. This simply means that the effects of marijuana will likely be more severe and toxic to pooches.

Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

Assuming you are in an enclosed space, marijuana smoke can also prove to be harmful to your pet, especially if they are the sorts with a pre-existing respiratory disease, such as bronchitis or a collapsing trachea.

If you do however smoke small amounts in ventilated areas, it’s less likely for your pet to experience any side effects or have any negative reaction.

Medical Cannabis: Can I use it on my dog?

Certain people give marijuana to their pets so as to deal with medical problems. Some of them even claim to be pleased with the results. However, according to veterinarians, dogs who have been accustomed to marijuana ingestion have shown the effects of being lethargic and having breathing problems.

This is the reason why it is fairly difficult to provide a definitive answer to the question if you should use cannabis as medical alternatives to your pooch.

To help us out, these are some of the conditions that certain dog owners believe to have been alleviated through the use of cannabis:

* Stress and anxiety
* Nausea
* Cognitive dysfunction

And while there have been claims of cannabis providing temporary aid to dogs, it’s important to remember that there is still no concrete study as to whether or not these benefits can actually be proven useful to all dogs. In serious situations, it’s still best to seek medical treatment from licensed professionals that provide supportive care.

Accidental Intakes

Some dog owners have reported that most of the time, they will be surprised that the majority of the signs and symptoms of marijuana intake mentioned above are seen on their pets.

As a general word of caution, you can always be on the lookout for possible sources of the said substance. It can be mixed with their usual dog food, disguised as tasty treats, or even walks in the yard or park where secondhand smoke can prove to be a nuisance.

It also helps to make sure that items with cannabis content are far away from the reach (and scent) of your dog. You can also closely monitor the amount of marijuana content you have on hand, so you will easily be able to identify should any be missing.

Like what we also previously mentioned, keeping away whenever you are smoking marijuana can be an effective means for ensuring that your pooch doesn’t get a whiff.

If for whatever reason they still manage to intake the said substance, you can always resort to inducing vomiting on your pet.

The Final Verdict

Since there’s still no concrete study recommending that dogs use marijuana to aid certain medical conditions, chances are some dog owners will continue with this practice. Depending on the state and legality, for sure, most of you won’t seem to have any problem with that.

Just be sure to use whatever medical assets you have in moderation, to maintain the healthy well-being of your four-legged friend.

 

Becky

Becky

4+ cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, loves to write, not a huge fan of coffee... but LOVES her pets! Read More
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