Legal Leaw! Pets and Pot: can they get high?
Thailand is the first country in Asia to legalize marijuana (2022). This change has resulted in many concerns, questions, and debates since rules and regulations still remain unclear. As dispensaries pop up on every corner, pawrents can’t help but wonder: “can my pets get high?”
Cannabis has been used in the medical field for various benefits such as lowering blood pressure, treating anxiety disorders, and relieving pain. But does this apply to our trusted companions too? We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the effects of marijuana on pets are not as great.
Pets and pot don’t mix
Marijuana is toxic to cats and dogs. Compared to our pets, our hooman bodies process substances differently, similar to why we should never give our pets chocolate. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is toxic to our furry friends, especially dogs. It was found that doggos have a higher amount of cannabinoid receptors compared to us! This means that they are at a higher risk of experiencing the toxic effects of THC. Although there is limited research, cats also shouldn’t be exposed to marijuana (which includes secondhand smoke too!).
Since Thailand has only legalized cannabis recently, there are limited insights compared to countries like the United States. There have been studies that were conducted in the U.S. comparing marijuana toxicosis in dogs within states where weed was legal, and in states where they are not. Results found that there were over 4 times as many reported cases in states where weed was legalized.
Cannabis, Marijuana, CBD, THC: What’s the difference?
All of this terminology can be confusing. Simply put:
- Cannabis: The genus of the plant’s species, a formal taxonomic term for their botanical classification.
- Marijuana: Is actually slang for the plant, popularized in the early 20th century.
- CBD (Cannabidiol): doesn’t affect the body in any obvious way, often used as a natural treatment, typically sourced from the hemp plant.
- THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol): the psychoactive compound that is responsible for the effects of marijuana (a.k.a. what gets you high).
Signs of poisoning
If you’ve found your furry friend sneaking into your stock of goodies, immediately take them to the vet if they are exhibiting these symptoms:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased sensitivity to all senses (motion, sound, touch, etc.)
- Abnormal or uncoordinated movements (involuntary urination, hypersalivation, etc.)
Even if they’re not showing these symptoms, keep an eye out and monitor their behavior for at least an hour. Symptoms can last from hours to several days, depending on how much THC they’ve ingested. It’s rare, but possible for them to experience seizures, comas, and even in extreme cases: death.
What to do if your pet is going through Marijuana poisoning
Immediately take them to the vet and be honest! Since it is legal, don’t be scared to come forward and let the vet know the truth, so they can accurately diagnose and treat your pet.
Depending on how much THC they have consumed, different types of treatment will be performed. The vet might pump the little one’s stomach, or induce vomiting to prevent any more THC from entering the bloodstream. In many cases, they will give activated charcoal to help neutralize the toxins, or in rarer cases, give them an enema to reduce absorption.
As Thailand enters the 420 game, pawrents have to remember that many marijuana products are harmful to little fur babies. Remember to pet-proof your home by keeping the goods and stash out of their reach. If your little friend has ingested marijuana, it is always best to seek professional advice from a veterinarian.
This article is reviewed by the veterinarian from Small Animal Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University (CUVET)
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- Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know | National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
- Pets on Pot - Just High or Highly Dangerous? | Michigan State University
- It’s not just dogs: All sorts of pets are being poisoned by marijuana | CNN Health
- Dogs And Marijuana: Is It Toxic For Your Pup? | Canine Journal
- Marijuana for Pets? | National Library of Medicine
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