Is THC Bad for Dogs? Marijuana Intoxication in Pets

Illustration for Is THC Bad for Dogs
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: February 11, 2022

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you gave your dog THC?

Or have you seen some CBD oils with higher ratios of THC than in hemp-derived products?

Watch out, THC can be very bad for your dog.

While it’s unlikely that your dog will pass away from accidentally eating a pot cookie, marijuana poisoning in pets is real — and should be avoided due to the nasty side effects that can be traumatic for your four-legged friend.

But, there’s a way to supplement your dog with cannabinoids in a safe way.

In this article, we explain why THC is bad for dogs and why it’s better to use hemp-derived CBD products with animals instead of the ones made from Cannabis Indica.

Weed for Pets: Is THC Bad for Dogs?

THC, also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis plants.

Cannabis actually produces over 400 different active compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

However, the vast majority of cannabis strains these days are grown to contain very high levels of THC — sometimes up to 30%.

When we consume cannabis, the THC from the flowers binds to the cannabinoid receptors in our brain — activating the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and causing a wide range of psychological and physiological reactions.

Once it happens, THC produces a euphoric buzz commonly known as the high. In low and moderate doses, this high is deeply relaxing and actually has a therapeutic effect on the brain and nervous system.

However, in sensitive individuals, THC may backfire — causing anxiety and feelings of paranoia.

Cats and dogs, like humans, have the ECS; but since they weigh much less than humans, it’s easier for them to experience extreme intoxication with THC.

In other words, while people may enjoy the THC high, it is, by all means, to give THC to our furry companions.

Does THC Have Health Benefits?

Yes, although THC is generally bad for dogs, it comes with plenty of health benefits.

The most notable therapeutic effects of THC are:

  • Pain Relief: there’s enough conclusive evidence to recommend THC for humans as a pain medication. THC has powerful analgesic and inflammatory effects, meaning it can both fight the pain at its roots and reduce the strength of its signals in the brain. People use THC to fight chronic pain, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, post-surgical pain, abdominal discomfort, and menstruation cramps.
  • Nausea Reduction: THC has strong antiemetic properties, meaning it does a good job at treating nausea and vomiting. This trait has made it popular among cancer and AIDS patients dealing with chronic nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite due to their treatments. There’s even a THC-based drug for these side effects called Marinol; it has been around since the 1990s.
  • Appetite Stimulation: This might not be surprising at all considering the infamous munchies after smoking weed, but studies show that THC is a very potent appetite stimulant. On top of that, it can also enhance your metabolism by acting on your insulin activity.

So Why Is THC Bad for Dogs?

Dog Looking at a Hemp Leaf

After reading about the health benefits of THC, you might be tempted to give some high-THC cannabis edibles or tinctures to your dog.

However, I strongly advise against such attempts.

As mentioned earlier, dogs and cats are way smaller than humans and thus can easily suffer from what vets describe as “marijuana poisoning.”

Interestingly, most cases of marijuana poisoning happen when animals get into their owner’s cannabis edibles.

The problem here is that the pet ends up eating far too much THC for their weight, which leaves them dealing with an array of nasty side effects, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking
  • Drooling
  • Tense muscles
  • Wide-open eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Twitching
  • Rocking back and forth on the spot

These symptoms usually occur together and are referred to as ataxia.

If you don’t believe me, you can go to YouTube and search for videos of dogs that have consumed cannabis — and then you’ll understand just how petrifying these effects can be.

Unfortunately, dogs also have a slower cannabinoid metabolism compared to humans and can feel the effects of THC for anywhere up to 24 hours.

Other symptoms that your dog has just got high off of weed include:

  • Dilated pupils and glassy eyes
  • Low or high heart rate
  • Whining and crying
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Vomiting

In extreme scenarios, THC can also trigger seizures and tremors or induce a coma.

Unfortunately, the information available on why dogs are so sensitive to THC is very confusing, but what we know for sure is that their size and weight play an important role.

What About Products with Equal Ratios of CBD and THC? Are They Safe for Dogs?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis.

You can find it especially in hemp plants, a low-THC variety that has many industrial and nutritional uses but doesn’t get you or your dog high.

Similar to THC, CBD has a wide range of health benefits.

However, CBD is not intoxicating — it doesn’t produce that signature psychoactive euphoria we associate with marijuana.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably seen cannabis products infused with different ratios of THC and CBD and are wondering whether these could be suitable for dogs.

While these products can be very beneficial for humans, it’s not the best idea to give them to your dog.

Although CBD counteracts the psychedelic potential of THC, you should still keep in mind your pet’s weight — and the fact that CBD/THC cannabis products are made exclusively for humans.

So, what can you do if you want your dog to benefit from cannabis but are afraid of marijuana poisoning?

Here’s my advice:

Use Hemp-Derived CBD over THC

Image of CBD and THC Oils

Hemp-derived CBD products like those I review on my website are made with highly-concentrated hemp extract that comes with a lot of health benefits.

CBD oil from hemp contains only 0.3% of THC (or less), which isn’t enough to get your dog high. It can help manage different kinds of conditions and symptoms — without the psychoactive buzz.

Best of all, CBD has a very good safety profile. The potential side effects include dry mouth, lethargy, and diarrhea, although these don’t occur often.

Another reason why I recommend this high-quality CBD oil instead of THC is that hemp-derived CBD products are 100% legal almost everywhere in the world.

Products sourced from marijuana, on the other hand, are much more strictly regulated.

For example, the US federal government considers marijuana illegal, despite the fact that some states have legalized its use.

What About Microdosing THC for Dogs?

While I don’t want to endorse the use of THC for dogs, I’m not going to disregard it either. There’s an emerging trend of microdosing THC among humans, showing us that small, controlled doses of the cannabinoid can be beneficial without delivering a high.

Does the same pattern apply to dogs?

Theoretically, dogs, just like humans, might be able to benefit from the microdoses of THC. However, there’s a lot more research to confirm whether dogs can, in fact, take THC that way.

What CBD Products Should You Give Your Dog?

Dogs being fed a cbd tincture with a hand

If you’ve made it that far, you’re probably thinking about incorporating CBD oil into your dog’s routine. What you need to remember is that the market is still unregulated, meaning that no hemp company takes the responsibility for its products and health claims.

On my website, I recommend a variety of CBD oils to help dog owners like you take care of the health of their furry friends.

As for now, my top recommendation for dog parents interested in CBD is Royal CBD.

Royal CBD has been at the top of its game since 2018, offering high-quality CBD extracts for humans. After succeeding with its line for human CBD products, Royal CBD has stepped up its game with a line of pet formulas.

The Royal CBD “Paws” line includes CBD pet oil and three types of CBD dog treats.

The pet oil contains 250 or 500 mg of CBD (depending on the selected strength) and is available in a bacon flavor — so if your buddy fusses over the natural flavor of CBD oil, this option should have him change his mind.

But, if your dog doesn’t like CBD in oil form, you may try giving them the best CBD dog treats.

The Royal CBD dog treats offer three formulations:

  • Active – with cinnamon and pumpkin spice
  • Hearty – with sweet potato and blueberry
  • Calming – with peanut butter and apple

Our review for Royal CBD states that every pet product from Royal CBD undergoes third-party testing during three protection stages: farming, extraction, and packaging. The company sends the lab reports to customers on request.

Final Thoughts on THC for Dogs: Is It Yay or Nay?

For now, it’s definitely a ‘Nay’ — at least not in its current form.

As of now, there are no pet-dedicated cannabis products with THC. Every edible out there is baked exclusively for humans.

This means that such products contain far more THC than your dog can handle. If it accidentally eats your weed-infused cookie, this can be a traumatic experience considering a range of nasty symptoms resulting from such an overdose.

If you’re considering adding cannabis to your dog’s daily routine, opt for hemp-derived CBD products. They, too, have many health benefits, but unlike marijuana-derived extracts, they come with little to no THC — ensuring no psychoactive buzz at all.

Has your dog ever accidentally eaten your THC supplies? Share your story in the comments and tell us how you acted.

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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