The efficacy and potential health benefits of the cannabis plant are becoming more and more of a topic of interest these days, especially where dogs are concerned. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the major psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants. Most pet owners are aware of this and are understandably curious and concerned.
Curiosity, in this case, is a good thing. We all want things that benefit our dogs, both in the short and the long term. CBD products are marketed as beneficial products. However, the obvious questions are: Is THC toxicity an issue for canines? Are there any adverse effects or marijuana toxicity to be concerned with? Are there psychoactive effects?
Most importantly, will weed kill dogs? It would be a devastating circumstance if marijuana poisoning detrimentally affected your dog. THC is used in dogs for many of the same reasons it’s used in humans. It reduces nausea, improves appetite, provides pain relief, and reduces seizures. But there is such a thing as too much!
Amount of THC That is Safe To Use
The largest amount of THC that is safe to use is 0.3% or less. There are very few studies on the interactions between dogs and THC. While the general consensus is 0.3%, we do know that there are benefits from other, low THC counterparts of cannabis plants that produce healthy responses in dogs.
CBD oils and Hemp oil for dogs are two of the most common, well-marketed alternative health options for dogs. However, the amount of THC in hemp oil for dogs is negligible, while the amount in CBD oils does not exceed 0.3%, at least not from reputable retail chains.
A review published by the K9 Healthcare Council of America reveals that canines have more Endocannabinoid receptors than humans do. This means that the overall psychoactive effects of THC content are far more powerful in dogs than in humans.
Here’s the problem—though the “general consensus” is that dogs can tolerate no more than 0.3% THC dosing, there are no definitive studies on the negative impacts of even that amount or smaller.
According to the Canadian Veterinary Journal, published by PMC Pubmed Central, we have more than 60 published studies on the effects of THC in dogs. Almost all of them reveal harmful and negative side effects.
This means that the burden is on you to keep any edibles or high-THC medicines well out of reach, such as the brands Tre House or CBD FX. CBD oils, hemp products, and CBD dog treats (dog treats with cannabis oil, hemp oil, and CBD oil) are considered safe for dogs as long as the THC is less than 0.3%.
A dog’s breed size matters as well. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, weed is in the top ten toxins for pets. According to the Washington Post’s report on weed toxicity in dogs, the size of the breed matters as well, with smaller dogs more susceptible than larger breeds.
Presence of THC in Dog Cannabis and Marijuana Products
The presence of THC in dog cannabis is almost always negligible. However, it’s a good idea to get veterinary medicine advice and check the ingredients label to ensure that if THC is present, it’s less than 0.3%. Also, be sure to dose properly.
In terms of the marijuana effect on dogs as a whole, the level of THC depends on the desired potency and the product itself, along with where it’s being sold. Some states have not legalized marijuana beyond medical use. The states that have regulated the products to one degree or another.
Either way, marijuana poisoning or, at the very least, a level of marijuana intoxication is guaranteed if a dog gets ahold of human THC products. As a rule of thumb, I don’t give my own animals THC products unless I know for a certainty that the THC is so minimal that it may as well not be in the product at all.
Medical marijuana typically contains between 25% and 30% THC, which is profoundly bad for a canine. If your dog gets into your medical marijuana, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Effects of THC On Dogs
Since dogs have five times more cannabinoid receptors than humans, even something as simple as the CBD oil that goes in your vape is harmful. The best way to keep your dog safe is to keep your personal THC products hidden away.
A minimum lethal oral dose is different for each dog, though death from THC ingestion is rare. Fortunately, there are some benefits from the trace amounts of THC in dogs, so long as those amounts are well below 0.3 THC.
- Improved appetite
- Short-term relief from pain
- Reduces vomiting
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces stress
- Helps with seizures
- Improves quality of life for dogs with cancer
So long as the dosage is correct, many dogs reportedly benefit from doses of CBD oil and other derivatives of hemp plants. The cannabis effects (in the long-term or through excessive) from marijuana affect dogs in a few different ways.
They may sleep excessively or become restless more often than not. They also may experience weight gain as their appetite increases, leading them to consume more food with more frequency. There’s also the potential for long-term depression.
Indication of THC Poisoning
Dogs taking a lethal dose of THC is fairly uncommon. Though there are severe cases of THC poisoning killing dogs, it’s a very uncommon issue. There are basically three levels of marijuana toxicity in dogs—mild, moderate, and high.
Even a mild dose of THC in a dog will be recognizable if you’re paying attention. It’s certainly not enough to kill a healthy dog, but there is the potential for casualties in dogs that have underlying medical conditions. Pet parents should be aware of the symptoms at all three levels.
- Mild drooling
- Increased appetite
A moderate dose will create some of the same side effects as those above, only more severe. Even a small amount of THC may be considered moderate to high, especially for a smaller breed. A moderate amount may be enough to cause dog vomiting and an increased heart rate as well.
If your dog ingests a lethal dose of THC, contact your veterinarian and get the dog to the vet ER as quickly as possible. A lethal dose in dogs may be nothing for humans, but it doesn’t mean your canine isn’t in danger. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s important to contact your vet right away:
- Drastic loss in coordination
- Dilated pupils
- Low breathing
- Abnormally rapid heart rate
- Excessive drooling
- Sudden low blood pressure
Hopefully, your dog never gets into anything with a major dose of THC. If your dog ingests even a little, it’s not something you should ignore and hope for the best.
Thoughts of Veterinarians About THC
Veterinarians are well aware of the toxicity of marijuana plants in dogs. However, there are also signs that some vets are responsive to the idea of low-dose marijuana use in pet treatments.
Most vets agree that cannabis is “biphasic,” which means it works for a limited time before its positive effects wane. However, the vast majority of vets are unwilling to recommend CBD treatments for dogs.
While it is generally understood that CBD shows promise in treating a number of conditions in canines, there simply isn’t enough information or clinical studies available for veterinarians to coalesce around a positive recommendation or a negative.
How To Know That Dog Products Contain the Right Amount of THC?
Check the ingredients label on the back. If the ingredients label does not display less than 0.3% or doesn’t inform you one way or the other, avoid the product altogether.
Does THC Help in Pain Relief?
Medical grade THC does help in pain relief but not directly and only in an offhand way because it activates the brain’s reward center. It doesn’t stop the nerves from communicating pain.
Can an Excessive Amount of THC Kill Dogs?
Yes, an excessive amount of THC can (and has been known) to kill dogs.
What Should Be Done in Case of Excessive Use of THC by the Dog Owner Before He/She Goes to the Veterinarian?
Immediately contact your vet, and they will be able to recommend an emergency veterinarian response if one exists in your area. If not, your vet should be able to direct you in the best way to treat your dog.
How To Know if a Dog Is High on THC?
If your dog exhibits any of the above symptoms, including tremors, seizures, excessive drooling, etc., there’s a good chance your pup is high on THC.
Now you know how much THC is safe for dogs! THC is toxic to dogs, and, at the very most, you shouldn’t give your dog any more THC than what comes in safe, well-recognized dog products or foods. Even the best CBD oil for cancer should only be used as directed.
We love our dogs and only want what’s best for them. However, we also have to be safe and only administer as directed or by veterinarian approval.