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If it’s good for me, it must be good for my dog, right? Not necessarily.  While it is true that canines are included in the list of mammals who have cannabinoid receptors, that doesn’t mean that it affects them in the same manner it does humans.

Pets and those wacky owners

There is a wide range of pet owners out there, from those who treat dogs like livestock to the ones who dress them up in outfits and give them a higher quality of life than most people in developing nations. Some wealthy individuals have even left their fortunes to their pets in their wills, effectively giving their pets human servants for life. Let’s face it, getting your dog high is not the most unusual thing going on out there.

But he likes it

If you have at least the affection of wanting your animal to live a happy, pain-free existence, (and you happen to be familiar with cannabis), you might be inclined to want Fluffy to enjoy the herb too. Cats have catnip, right?

Sometimes, it isn’t even about wanting to share your buzz, because our canine companions often feel the need to help themselves to what is ours. Just leave a hamburger unattended while you go to the bathroom. It will vanish like you left it in the Bermuda Triangle.

The ASPCA and Pet Poison Hotlines have noted an increase of reports of dogs getting their paws on their owner’s medicine. Whether the increase is due to more cannabis being available or simply vets being better able to identify the condition today, it is a certainty that it happens.

Effects

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(This is my dog Azure, he does not like me looking at pictures of other dogs).

While cannabis is non-toxic, and virtually impossible for humans to overdose on, the same cannot be said for dogs. Due to metabolism and variation in size, dogs can have much more powerful reactions to being high, lasting from hours to even days. In doggy time, that’s like being blitzed for a fortnight.

For our furry friends, symptoms can include lethargy, lower blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, breathing problems, loss of balance, and incontinence. The effects of vapor or smoke inhalation are generally milder, and easily pass, but ingestion of edibles could result in more long-lasting symptoms, just like they do for us.

Concentrates

Another factor to consider is in concentrated forms, such as cannabutter or oil, the medium itself can cause problems that are compounded by cannabis. Many common foods we eat on a daily basis are not compatible with an animal’s digestive system. Just like humans, being loopy and also eating bad food can make for a really rough time.

Animal stomachs don’t handle substances like butter, certain processed foods, or chocolate well, and could potentially lead to fatalities. Two dogs have been reported to have died from ingesting cannabis in Colorado; both cases involved cannabutter.

Mental state

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The biggest issue in whether a pet will tolerate a proper dose of cannabis is their mental state. While a human generally understands the sense of altered consciousness, our dogs don’t. Vets who have seen animals that are under the influence of cannabis have said that reaction depends on the animal, and around 25% will become very distressed, with panting and nervous pacing. Just like people, some dogs love drinking beer, while others won’t like the experience, and prefer toilet water (I do not mean to imply that some people like toilet water).

When is cannabis good for my dog?

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When deciding whether medical cannabis is right for your animal, paying attention to their condition, temperament, and the type of treatment are key. Generally speaking, if your pet reacts well to other medications, such as the anesthesia and pain meds used for spays and neuters, they will tolerate it fine, as long as the dose is appropriate for their weight. Doug Kramer, a veterinarian, prescribed one drop of liquid cannabis extract put in cheese for every 10 pounds of body weight.

The late vet guru Doug Kramer was a firm believer in medical cannabis for animals. He first treated his 12-year-old Siberian husky, who suffered from chronic pain. It increased her appetite, and decreased her nausea, giving her a better quality of life in her final weeks.

Some dispensaries even offer cannabis treats meant for pets to treat arthritis, nausea, poor eyesight, or to combat the effects of debilitating conditions like cancer or old age.

The debate on animal dosing

Darlene Arden, who is a certified animal behavior consultant that advocates for medical marijuana for animals, states:

“AVMA (the American Veterinary Medical Association) will not approve it until there have been studies. I agree that there should be studies but at the same time, I don’t think animals should have to wait years for treatment, for relief from pain and/or nausea. It gives them quality of life.”

That argument sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Perhaps the potential for treating animals with cannabis will help the legalization movement for the human animal. At least pets don’t have that pesky “moral authority” dilemma, because… All Dogs Go To Heaven.

Would you treat your ailing or aging pet with cannabis to improve its quality of life? How does your outlook on animal use differ from your opinion on human use? Share your opinions on social media or in the comments below.

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