Pet owners face a conundrum when it comes to cannabis and their furry, codependent friends.
What happens when you want to hit the bong while Wishbone’s in the room? Do you quarantine the cat in the basement while you spark the joint, or do you let Mr. Snugglesworth sit in on the session?
While there are varying reports regarding the dangers of cannabis exposure in pets, one thing is for certain: animals definitely can get high, and there have even been some—albeit very few—documented instances of fatal THC overdoses in dogs.
But before you start succumbing to pet-owners guilt for puffing and passing around the poodle, it should be noted that dog deaths are pretty rare occurrences. Those that have been documented commonly involved the accidental ingestion of edibles, like large quantities of pot brownies or THC-infused butter.
That being said, it appears that edibles, not second-hand smoke, are proving to be the largest threat to marijuana toxicity in animals.
There was a significant increase across America of animals getting high after certain states started legalizing recreational weed in 2012.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the organization saw a 448 per cent increase in marijuana-related cases over a period of six years. In Colorado, the number of dogs admitted for marijuana toxicity was multiplied by four between 2005 and 2010 (likely due to their owners using weed for medicinal purposes).
Dogs were much more susceptible to accidentally consuming cannabis products than cats, who—surprise, surprise—are way pickier than their canine counterparts and aren’t as likely to eat an entire nug of flower off the carpet. Dogs want to sniff and nibble on object, plant, or animal they’ve never seen before, putting them at extra risk for toxicity.
On top of that, they’re actually more sensitive to the effects of psychotropic effects of THC than humans are. Though there’s way less information on the effects of cannabinoids on pets due to stigma and lack of research, we know that canines have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors in their brains, making them more vulnerable to the trippy effects.
Lesson of the day: keep all your marijuana products (and even your old roaches) safely stored, away from the sniffing noses of your bulldogs and especially your chihuahuas (the smaller the dog, the less weed it’ll take for it to become hypothermic).
Smoking around your pets in general isn’t ideal for your dog’s or cat’s respiratory health, but it can be argued that smoking cannabis is healthier for your pet than going through a pack of cigarettes inside the house.
Nicotine from secondhand smoke has been shown to have a negative effect on the nervous system of animals. Cats seem particularly averse to smoke: they tend to become more anxious. Plus, because they self-groom, they’re more at risk of ingesting toxic particles in the area after you’ve had a smoke. All the cancer-causing compounds found in cigarettes make them dangerous for both humans and animals.
Cannabis, on the other hand, actually has some medicinal benefits for mammals, which is why cannabis oil products for dogs have seen a rise in popularity since legalization.
Given the proper dosage, dog-friendly oils which are low in THC content have been used to treat canines suffering from cancer symptoms, seizures, gastrointestinal issues, and even back pain (I can relate). Some people are even looking to marijuana cookies as future snacks from the vet’s office to treat epilepsy.
There’s still plenty of research to be done on that front, though, so don’t go baking a batch of Bubba Kush cookies for your ailing dog.
The main takeaways: keep your stash of flower, oils, pills, shatter, and edibles safely stored, and make sure there’s good ventilation in the room if you plan on smoking in the vicinity of puppers and cats. If your pet does start to show symptoms of being high, take it to the animal hospital immediately.