If your dog is suffering from chronic pain or some type of illness, you more than likely are searching endlessly to find ways to help them. While medications can help with relieving pain and healing medical issues, sometimes they can cause some issues, like vomiting and sluggishness.
On your search you might have come across THC, a type of oil made from cannabis plants, that can be used. However, this oil can sometimes be a little tricky to administer and might even be dangerous to use with your dog if they are given too much. This article will explore more behind THC, some of the side effects and benefits of it, and whether it’s good for your dog to use.
THC and Dogs - What is THC?
THC, which is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a component of the cannabis plant known for causing the body to get “high.” This is often caused because it reacts with the brain to trick it into having an extreme level of euphoria. THC also helps to relax the body which can help to relieve pain, soreness, and vomiting. It can even work to increase your dog’s appetite thanks to it encouraging better metabolism in their body.
Can Dogs Use THC? Is Weed Bad for Dogs?
So, is weed toxic to dogs? Is THC toxic to dogs? While dogs can use THC, it’s often advised that they don’t. This is because it can be very easy to give them too much of it which can end up being deadly. So, while THC does have benefits for dogs, such as pain relief, it can be very dangerous to use if not monitored closely. Because of this, many vets often recommend you look to using something like CBD oil instead.
If you want to use cannabis for dogs, it’s first important to talk with your vet. They will be able to tell whether your dog is suited to use THC and help to give you the right amount to give to them. Your vet will also more than likely have you do follow-up appointments so they can monitor how your dog is doing and if adjustments need to be made.
Dogs and THC - How to Use THC Oil
It’s very easy to use THC oil. Usually, this oil will come in a bottle with a dropper you can use to measure the doses out with. This way, it can make it a bit easier to ensure you don’t overuse it.
To use this cannabis oil for dogs, simply squeeze the dropper so oil goes in it and then add the required amount to your dog’s food or mix it into a special treat for them.
Do Dogs Have Cannabinoid Receptors?
Yes, dogs do have cannabinoid receptors which are very similar to the ones humans have. They are attached to the dog’s brain and nervous system which react with cannabis oils when they are ingested or rubbed on their skin. However, dogs have fewer receptors than humans so the oil might not have strong effects on their body as they might have with humans.
Marijuana Effects on Dogs - Negative Effects of THC
THC toxicity can be dangerous for dogs if you don’t give them the proper amount. Below are some common side effects your pup might experience if they are given too much THC.
One common side effect of THC for dogs is extreme tension. This is because THC can cause their muscles to tense up which can make it hard for them to walk. However, this might seem a little ironic as THC can help with relaxation sometimes. The key to this is the amount of THC given, and if you give your dog too much, your dog can become too tense for them to function normally.
Another side effect of THC for dogs is excessive drooling. This is because THC will cause gastrointestinal problems which can increase the amount of saliva in their mouth. Sometimes excessive drooling will even indicate your dog is in pain, especially if this pain is located in their mouth or throat.
They Have a Hard Time Walking
Sometimes THC can cause dizziness and vertigo in dogs which can make it difficult for your dog to walk. THC poisoning in dogs can also cause them to sway while walking and have lethargy which could cause your dog to have difficulty getting up just to walk to their food dish.
They Lose Control of Their Bladder
If your dog ingests too much THC, it can make them very sleepy and loosen their muscles which can result in them losing control of their bladder.
They Can Become Paranoid
Sometimes dogs can become very paranoid if they ingest too much THC. This can involve them pacing up and down halls or panting heavily. In addition to this, it can also make your dog feel very anxious. Due to this, they might turn into a completely different dog and be irritable, grouchy, and maybe even a little dangerous since they aren’t fully aware of what is going on.
Abnormal Heartbeats Can Occur
Ingesting too much THC can cause abnormal heartbeats in dogs. This is because it can cause their body to overwork which can cause their heart to beat quickly and irregularly.
How Much THC is Too Much?
Even just a small dose over your regular amount of THC oil can be too much for your dog, especially if they are a smaller breed. The amount of THC that’s too much really depends on your dog, their size, and their health.
THC Oil Benefits
While there are some serious side effects that can happen if you give your dog THC, it also has many benefits if given properly. Below are some of them you can find if you plan to give your dog this.
Instant Pain Relief
One of the best benefits about THC is that it provides instant pain relief. So, if your dog often suffers from medical issues like chronic pain or arthritis, THC might be beneficial for them. This is because it will block the brain from sensing pain which can help your dog to rest more.
It Can Help with Appetite
A unique benefit about THC is that it can help with increasing appetite in dogs. This is because it will help with your dog’s metabolism which will in return work make them feel hungry.
It Can Stop Vomiting
Another benefit about THC for dogs is that it can stop vomiting. Because of this, it’s often used to help dogs with cancer who usually have nausea and vomiting problems because it calms the gastrointestinal tract down.
How to Help a Dog That Has Taken Too Much THC
If you find your dog might have taken too much THC, there are a few ways you can help them.
Take Them Immediately to the Vet
One of the most important steps to follow if you find your dog has ingested too much THC is to take them immediately to the vet. Your vet will be able to provide adequate medical treatment to flush out the THC from their body while closely monitoring them.
While at the vet, they may give them heavy amounts of fluids to help with flushing the toxins out. They might also induce vomiting to help quickly remove the poisonous particles from their body. However, if their gag reflex is damaged by THC, your vet will more than likely attach them to an oxygen tank to ensure they can breathe.
Give Them Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal can help to absorb the THC in your dog’s body to help prevent it from spreading. The charcoal will go through the gastrointestinal tract and quickly eat up the toxins. The right amount of activated charcoal to give your dog will depend on their size. Ideally, you should give them about 1-3 kg per their body weight. To help ensure your dog gets enough charcoal, you can administer it into their mouth with a syringe.
Make Sure They Have Plenty of Water
Another way to help a dog that has taken too much THC is to make sure they have enough water. If you find that your dog hasn’t ingested large quantities of this drug, then this is a good thing to consider trying. By making sure they get plenty of fluids, it will help to flush the THC out of their body through urine. However, make sure to not force your dog to take the water. By doing so, it can cause them more stress which can worsen the problem. So, in this case, just make sure to have a clean bowl of fresh water nearby.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to just sit and comfort your dog. Make sure they are in a comfortable place that has low lighting to help them stay relaxed.
This method is also ideal only if your dog has taken just a little too much of THC. However, if they have taken a much larger amount of it then it’s important to take them to your vet as soon as possible.
THC Products: Where to Get Them
Searching for proper THC products to use with your dog can be a little difficult. Despite this, you can find them in a few ways.
Talk with Your Vet
One of the best ways to find THC products for your dog is to talk with your vet. They will able to recommend certain products to use and can even write a prescription for you.
You can find many cannabis products online that are legal to buy. While they might not have strong doses, you can still find plenty of good products you can give your dog. However, keep in mind that sometimes online the products might be a little diluted so you might not get the full dose and benefits that you’re hoping for.
Alternative to THC: CBD Oil
If you’re a little hesitant to give your dog THC, you can instead try to give them CBD oil. While this oil also comes from cannabis plants, it doesn’t have as many serious side effects like THC does and won’t give your dog “high” in any way.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is an oil taken from cannabis plants. However, unlike THC, CBD oil for dogs does not contain components that cause the body to get high or have other psychoactive effects.
After being taken from the cannabis plant, the oil is then diluted with another carrier oil, like coconut or hemp seed oils which help to further reduce any extreme effects on the body.
Should You Use THC or CBD for Pain?
Whether you use THC or CBD oil for pain depends on what your vet recommends and the type of pain and problems your dog has. Usually, if your dog is in extreme pain, THC oil will be recommended as it’s much more powerful than CBD oil. However, for most cases, CBD oil will be recommended because it’s not as strong.
The Benefits of CBD Oil: Cannabis Oil Effects
CBD Oil has numerous benefits that can help your dog.
Below are some of the most common:
It Can Help with Pain
Just as with THC, CBD oil can help with significantly reducing pain. However, unlike THC, you don’t have to worry about giving your dog too much of it. This is because it will reduce inflammation in the body which causes chronic pain.
It Has Anti-Cancer Components
Surprisingly, CBD oil can help to thwart cancer cells as it can improve the immune system and ensure it stays healthy. It also can prevent tumors from forming which can prevent cancer from spreading in your dog’s body by shrinking and ultimately destroying the cells that cause it.
It Can Help the Heart
CBD oil can also help with improving heart health. This is because it will work to remove damaged blood cells which can harm your heart. It can also help to reduce high blood pressure levels. In fact, it might even help to stop and prevent heart disease in dogs thanks to its powerful heart-friendly components.
It Can Stop Vomiting
Just as with THC, CBD oil can help with stopping vomiting. Often, dogs that suffer from cancer or other serious illnesses, can have severe vomiting which is usually caused by the medicines they are taking to combat their health issues. CBD oil helps to reduce stomach inflammation and calm it down which can stop their body from feeling the need to vomit. In addition to this, CBD oil appetites can occur due to it increasing your dog’s want for food.
Negative Side Effects of CBD Oil
While CBD oil doesn’t have as many serious side effects as THC does, there are a few things you’ll need to watch out for.
One side effect of CBD oil is drowsiness. This is because CBD oil works to calm the body which can make your dog feel a bit tired and drowsy. Because of this, they might have trouble walking or seeing things.
Lethargy is another problem you’ll need to watch out for when giving your dog CBD oil. This oil can sometimes cause quick and low drops in blood pressure which can cause sluggishness and even dizziness.
A Dry Mouth
Some CBD oils can dry out your dog’s mouth. This is because CBD oil will decrease the saliva production in their mouth which can cause it to dry out. Because of this, you might find your dog needing large amounts of water to quench their thirst.
How to Give Your Dog CBD Oil
There are a few ways you can give your dog CBD oil. Here are two methods you can consider.
From a Bottle
The first is by using pure oil itself. You can buy CBD oil in a bottle which usually comes with a dropper on the top. This way, you can easily measure and pour the oil out according to the amount you need. CBD oil from a bottle is a little stronger compared to CBD oil treats though.
To give your dog this oil, you can drop it into their food and mix it up or put some drops on their skin and massage it in. If you find your dog tends to be a picky eater, make sure to stir the oil into their food well. Otherwise, they might not get the full benefits of it. You can also gently open your dog’s mouth and put a few drops on their tongue to ensure they get the right amount for their needs.
However, make sure to look for an organic option. Non-organic options will more than likely contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals which can add even more toxins to your dog’s body. An organic option, on the other hand, is completely safe from these particles and will ensure your dog heals and feels well.
CBD Oil Treats
Another way to give your dog CBD oil is with treats. You’ll find many different CBD oil treats you can give your dog, many of which also are made with other beneficial ingredients like fish oil and peanut butter.
THC and CBD - Is There THC in CBD Oil?
So, does CBD oil contain THC? Most of the time CBD oil is completely free from THC. However, this isn’t to say that very small and undangerous traces of it can sometimes be left behind. Because of this, CBD oil with THC isn’t uncommon, but it’s not harmful.
THC can give your dog relief for many forms of pain, but it can be very dangerous to give them. While you can talk with your vet about giving your dog THC, you have to monitor the amount you give your furry friend very closely. If you’re looking for a less hectic option to give your dog, you might instead consider CBD oil. It works similarly to THC but doesn’t have as many serious side effects.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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The Innovet Team
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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