Humans love pets. We share our homes, food, and time with them, and many of us consider pets to be part of the family. If you’re a pet owner who is also a cannabis user, you may have wondered whether your pet would enjoy cannabis as much as you do, either recreationally or medically.
Can pets even get high?
The short answer is yes, pets can get high, but they won’t like it. I’ll explain: all vertebrates – mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles – have an endocannabinoid system with CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which means that THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids will have some effect. However, the effects probably aren’t the same ones that humans experience. This is at least partially due to the fact that your pets lack the extremely advanced prefrontal cortex that humans (and some great apes) possess. That part of the brain is involved in our cognition and language. Without it, we would experience our reality very differently.
Our prefrontal cortexes are the tools we need to think rationally and understand in detail everything that’s going on around us and happening to us. We can eat some edibles, relax, and enjoy the sensations, knowing that what we’re feeling is a result of the cannabis and that it will pass. Dogs, cats, and other animals that don’t have prefrontal cortexes can’t do that.
If your pet ingests cannabis and becomes anxious, has trouble controlling its body, or starts shaking, it won’t understand why it’s happening.
Many of us have experienced uncomfortable highs, but they might be the norm for non-human animals. You should avoid exposing your pet to THC for that reason alone, but there are others as well.
THC is toxic to dogs and cats, and while it’s unlikely to kill them, they may need to spend a day at the vet while they recover. Unpleasant symptoms that pets may experience are agitation, anxiety, vomiting, slow heart rate, lack of coordination, drooling, shaking, and even seizures.
On top of that, even if pets could get high and enjoy it, there’s a consent issue. Your pets can’t communicate to tell you if they’re down for a smoke sesh or if they’re having a bad time, so just don’t try it.
Try to avoid exposing your pet to cannabis smoke, and keep edibles out of their reach. If your pet gets into your stash and chows down, ending up having a bad time, keep your pet in a familiar, safe, welcoming environment. Then, just stay nearby and help comfort them until it passes.
Cats are very curious animals and many are attracted to the scent of cannabis plants.
They like to nibble on leaves that contain only trace amounts of THC and CBD.
Munching a few leaves shouldn’t hurt your cats but you might want to keep them away when the plant is in flower.
Your cat might be in for a rough day if they start eating the flowers.
What about CBD for pets?
While THC and THC-containing forms of cannabis aren’t good for pets, CBD might be. You may have seen some of the many CBD products that are now available for pets – edible biscuits, soft-chews, tinctures, and more. Unfortunately, even less research has been done on CBD’s effects on pets than has been done on humans. However, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that CBD could help treat pets’ anxiety, arthritis, stress, lack of appetite, and chronic pain. Possible side effects should limit themselves to drowsiness and munchies.
To avoid any possible side effects from THC, try to use products where the CBD is sourced from hemp. If you decide to start giving your pet CBD, start with a very low dose and work your way up. Always pay close attention when increasing the dose to make sure your pet shows no signs of discomfort.
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Elijah Petty is a writer in the cannabis industry. He aims to use his platform to help educate people about cannabis and dispel some of the myths and misinformation that surround the plant.