Is THC Safe for Animals?

June 17, 2020

Not all cannabinoids are safe for pets. The psychoactive effects of THC are not desirable for all animals. 

Are you brooding about giving your pet THC? Or have you ever seen some CBD oils which contain THC? Be careful, THC can produce very harsh side effects in pets. It is always better to choose non-psychoactive CBD products instead.

However, there is how to use cannabis safely together with your furry friend.

Understanding the Source

Cannabis plants contain around 400 different active compounds. However, most of the cannabis strains grown to form marijuana from grandaddy purple feminized to auto flower breeds are genetically modified to contain extremely high THC concentrations (sometimes up to 30%).

When we consume cannabis, the THC from the plant activates our body's Endocannabinoid System (ECS) by fitting into cannabinoid receptors spread throughout the brain and body.

When it does this, THC produces a robust, psychedelic euphoria that we colloquially call a "high" or "stone." Animals, like humans, can experience this, too. Moreover, while people might enjoy that iconic cannabis "high," it can cause some pretty scary symptoms in our furry friends.

What Is ECS

According to research, most animals have an endocannabinoid system. There are only a couple of creatures who do not have an endocannabinoid system of any kind. Those without an ECS are mostly insects and microscopic single-celled creatures referred to as Phyla Protozoa. All animals will not have similar advanced systems, but they might have a minimum of a primitive endocannabinoid system.

The study of the human endocannabinoid system has become a crucial focal point. However, when it involves other animals, there is still a scarcity of data. The ECS of lab animals may be a little better understood. Still, there is far less knowledge about other creatures on the earth than what has been uncovered of the human ECS.

The more primitive the ECS is, the more minimal regulatory actions are controlled. These basic endocannabinoid systems are only liable for the management of feeding behavior. The more evolved the species. 

The more complex is the endocannabinoid system. The mammalian endocannabinoid system is most similar to the human endocannabinoid system. In the first basic terms, the endocannabinoid system of other mammals, like dogs, horses, cats, and rodents, operates almost like the human endocannabinoid system. All mammals have CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Does THC Have Health Benefits?

Yes, THC has health benefits.

These include:

  • Pain Relief: There is a substantial body of research showing that THC has potent analgesic effects. Studies show it can help with both nociceptive and neuropathic pain. It is especially useful for treating chronic pain from conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and more.

  • Antiemetic: THC is exceptionally effective at treating nausea and vomiting. This has made it very fashionable among cancer and AIDS patients affected by chronic nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss thanks to their treatments. Synthetic THC isolates like Marinol, for instance, have been around since the 1980s.

  • Neuroprotection: Contrary to popular belief, studies show that THC and other cannabinoids can help protect brain cells. Some studies suggest that cannabinoids can stimulate neurogenesis in certain parts of the brain and thus help treat neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and more.

  • Appetite Stimulation: This might come as no surprise, but studies show that THC is exceptionally effective at stimulating both appetite and metabolism. Again, this makes it an ideal supplement for people affected by eating disorders, also as appetite loss from certain medical conditions and coverings.

The Effects of THC On Pets

You might be inclined to offer your Dog THC-rich cannabis because of its health benefits.

Dogs and cats are susceptible to THC and may suffer from what vets describe as "marijuana poisoning." Unfortunately, most cases of marijuana poisoning happen when animals get into their owner's supply of cannabis.

The problem here is that the pet finishes up consuming far an excessive amount of THC, which leaves them handling a bunch of nasty symptoms, including:

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

These combinations of symptoms are usually mentioned as ataxia.

Unfortunately, pets also metabolize cannabinoids tons slower than humans. They may feel the consequences of THC for anywhere up to 24 hours (or longer), counting on what proportion they consumed.

Other symptoms of THC intoxication in pets include:

  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils and glassy eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Low or high pulse 
  • Whining and crying
  • Loss of bladder control (incontinence)

In extreme cases, THC also can cause seizures/tremors or induce a coma.

There is limited data about why dogs are so sensitive to THC, but we all know that their size and weight play an enormous part.

Why THC Is Not Good for Pets

This is often why pet owners got to know the differences, especially when it involves the consumption of cannabinoid medicine for pets. Veterinarians and pet owners got to inform themselves to identify the critical gaps to stay safe.

One crucial difference is that the location and concentration of CB1 receptors in dogs. Humans and dogs have CB1 receptors within the brain, but dogs have a way higher level than humans. It has mainly concentrated within the cerebellum, brain stem, and medulla. 

Because THC may be a CB1 receptor agonist, when dogs ingest it, their endocannabinoid system is quickly overwhelmed. With numerous CB1 receptors, dogs are in danger of THC overdose and death, and a condition referred to as static ataxia.

CBD For Pets

Cannabidiol or CBD is the second most concentrated cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is found in unusually high concentrations in hemp, a spread of cannabis that contains low levels of THC (usually below 0.3%) and has many industrial uses.

Like THC, CBD features a wide variety of health benefits. However, unlike THC, CBD does not produce that iconic psychoactive euphoria we accompany marijuana.

The Therapeutic Benefits Of CBD

Non-intoxicating CBD is the way pharmaceuticals are moving when it involves the treatment of pets. Though the human endocannabinoid system is analogous to animals, researchers believe there is a significant overlap in medical applications. This conclusion should not be taken lightly, however. Therapeutic targets for animals with CBD are:

  • Pain relief
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Reduction of stress and anxiety
  • Something to stay in Mind

Bottom Line

Cannabis products containing both THC and CBD are often great for humans. This is why we wonder whether these are realistic options for treating our pets. Pets can become intoxicated once they inhale second-hand smoke. They will also become intoxicated by eating edibles or ingesting cannabis directly in the other form. 

Exposure is usually accidental due to the pet's curiosity or being within the same room when it is smoked. The tactic of exposure is not as important as correct information on how it had been ingested. Ingestion of a brownie would be treated differently than inhalation. If chocolate was involved, another sort of treatment is essential.

Until researchers found the safest thanks to applying THC, animals should instead use CBD for treating their problems. CBD is not a cannabis-receptor agonist, which makes it safer for pets. Because there are still not enough studies on CBD and, therefore, the effect it is on other species, it should always be applied cautiously. If unsure, search for professional help.

About the Author

is-thc-safe-for-animalsMikaela Smith is a young Chemical Engineer and an active advocate for medical cannabis raising awareness. A researcher by day and writer at night. After years of collecting information from hundreds of cannabis experts and institutions. She wants to inspire others how we could see the world as heaven as she found the safest, most effective relief and hope in medical cannabis.