South Africa’s been on a high ever since the 18th of September 2018, when the private use of dagga was legalised. Social media has been buzzing, and opinions spreading like weeds.
Here are some quick facts on marijuana:
- Marijuana comes from the dried flowering tops, leaves, stems, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa (hemp) plant.
- Humans have used marijuana for hundreds of years for fiber (hemp), seed oils, seed, medical treatment, and recreationally.
- Marijuana plants contain 80 different cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component) and CBD (cannabidiol, the medical component).
- The most common way to take marijuana is to smoke it but it can also be baked into food (edibles), such as brownies or cookies, or brewed as a tea.
- Some people use medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, muscle spasticity, anorexia, nausea, and sleep disturbances.
- Some of the common discomforts found when using marijuana include dry mouth, swollen eyelids, bloodshot eyes, loss of coordination, and an accelerated heart rate.
So, we’ve established there are some risks and rewards. But we need to know a bit more…
To feed or not to feed?
Since it’s now legal to use and grow dagga at home, what happens when your four-legged friends ingest the “herb”? Whether you use it for medical reasons or recreationally, is it safe to be sharing your “greens” with your fur-friends? Let’s investigate…
The effects of cannabis on pets
First things first, let’s ask the simple question of whether cannabis has the same effects on pets as on humans?
Our research shows that, just like us humans, dogs can also get “high” from ingesting marijuana depending on the amount of THC in the product. It is also dependent on the size of the dog and the amount of cannabis consumed. Ingesting marijuana could cause your doggie to become paranoid, sleepy, have problems with their breathing, drop in their blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, loss of balance or problems managing their bladders.
Although no human has died from an overdose of marijuana, it can be life threatening if your pooch ingests too much. If you suspect an overdose, take your fur-kid to the vet immediately. An overdose can be identified by hyperactive, disorientated and unusual behaviour. Your pup’s pupils will also be dilated, and excessive drooling might appear.
According to Dr. Gary Richter, medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in California,
life-threatening risks for dogs from medical cannabis are exceedingly rare. Richter says that toxicity more often occurs when a pet has eaten an “edible” product of marijuana that also contains chocolate, coffee, or raisins. “Even if the THC toxicity is not excessive, they can sometimes have problems due to these other ingredients.” Like any medications, overdosing can lead to potential risks for pets. “The most significant is THC toxicity, meaning, essentially, they are high,” Richter says. That said, ingestion of large amounts of marijuana has been fatal in a number of dogs so preventing overdoses with medical cannabis is still extremely important, warns Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary advisor with petMD.
Any benefits of cannabis for dogs?
Feeding your doggo weed brownies isn’t a great idea. You know sugar and chocolate isn’t good for dogs and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can have negative effects on your pup’s health. Moderate amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) however can be great for treating dogs with anxiety, arthritis, cancer and other common health conditions. It’s better than other pain medication and doesn’t damage the kidney, liver and GI tract.
Please note: Consult a qualified vet before you give your doggo cannabis.
The use of marijuana carries risks and rewards in both humans and our four-legged friends. What we do know is that it’s best not to feed your canine companion any sweet treats containing marijuana. You should in fact never feed your pets anything with elevated levels of sugar and cocoa. If your dog suffers from medical conditions, medical cannabis can be a great alternative medication but it’s important to consult your vet before you give them medical cannabis. Your vet knows best! Also keep in mind that data regarding marijuana products for pets is still very limited.
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