What is cannabis?
Cannabis (marijuana) refers to the dried parts of the Cannabis plant. Cannabis has been used since 500 BC as herbal medicine and for products such as rope, textiles, and paper. Today, cannabis is primarily used for medicinal or recreational purposes. Cannabis can be smoked like a cigarette, inhaled via vaporizers, or ingested via food and drink.
Cannabis contains more than 100 different chemicals (or compounds) called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that has the most psychoactive effects. It is also the compound responsible for some of cannabis’ medicinal uses, such as treating nausea and improving appetite in cancer patients. Other compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD), have shown promise for medicinal use and do not have psychoactive effects.
While cannabis use is not new, its use for recreational purposes is more recent. In the 1970s, cannabis was criminalized in the US when it was labeled a Schedule 1 (Class I) drug. In the 1990s, individual states began legalizing cannabis for medicinal use, and more recently, 18 states have legalized it for recreational use. Legalization for recreational use in Canada occurred in 2018. As with any other medication, the increased accessibility to the drug has led to an increase in accidental exposure in pets.
How do cats and dogs become intoxicated?
Cats and dogs can become intoxicated by cannabis in various ways, most commonly by eating edibles (e.g., baked goods, candies, chocolate bars, and chips containing cannabis), or by ingesting cannabis directly (in any form). Pets can also be exposed to second-hand smoke. Most exposures are accidental when curious pets discover access to the drug or when they are present in the same room with a person smoking cannabis. Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains, which means the effects of cannabis are more dramatic and potentially more toxic when compared to humans. A small amount of cannabis is all it takes to cause toxicity in cats and dogs.
Regardless of the method of exposure, accurate and complete information is imperative to treat the patient successfully. For example, ingestion of a pot brownie’ needs different treatment than inhalation because eating the brownie requires treatment for cannabis and chocolate toxicity, whereas inhalation may require additional treatment for respiratory irritation.
The following is more information about marijuana and dogs, and the effect of marijuana on dogs.
There is a lot of debate and many questions about the use of marijuana if you’re a person, but what about marijuana and dogs? It may sound a little out there at first, but a lot of people research the effect of marijuana on dogs because there is some evidence showing it could be therapeutically beneficial for different reasons.