Is Delta 8 THC Safe for Pets?

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August 23, 2021 | Blog

If your pets become stressed because of fireworks, extreme weather, or general anxiety, your first instinct is to turn to any product that can calm them down and keep them comfortable. 

Delta 8 THC is highly relaxing for people, so it’s normal to wonder if it gives animals the same mellow experience.

This article discusses why delta 8 THC isn’t suitable for pets, what to do if they accidentally eat it, and a safe alternative to using it instead.

What Is Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in marijuana and hemp plants. 

It’s an analog of delta 9 THC, or THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. 

Delta 8 and delta 9 THC are almost identical from a structural perspective. The only difference is the location of a double bond in their top ring structure. 

This subtle difference gives delta 8 much more emphases on relaxing and soothing qualities than delta 9, which is stimulating in higher doses. 

Is Delta 8 THC Safe for Pets?

There are very few studies on delta 8 THC and its effects on pets, but it’s not known to be particularly toxic to pets in small quantities. Still, you should avoid giving it to them for any reason.  

Delta 8 is very similar to THC, so it’s safe to assume the effects on pets will also be similar. 

THC has a significantly more severe effect on your pet than it does on you. The psychoactive properties of delta 8 will likely be overwhelming for your dog or cat and result in severe stress, anxiety, and general discomfort. 

What Are the Negative Side Effects of Delta 8 THC In Pets?

Several unwanted side effects often crop up in pets that have taken THC. Most of them are minor, but some pets have complications.

1. THC Can Cause Anxiety

Delta 8 THC is revered for its lack of anxious side effects. 

While this is true in humans, it doesn’t appear to be the case for animals. 

Some individuals offer delta 8 THC to their pets, hoping to reduce their stress and anxiety, only to find it makes their pets even more anxious than before.

2. THC Can Cause Excessive Drooling

Most dogs dosed with THC products exhibit excessive drooling. It’s unclear why this occurs, but it’s a prevalent side effect. Drooling in pets is often an indication of pain, so it may mean that THC is causing uneasiness or discomfort in your pet.

3. THC Can Alter Their Heart Rhythm

One of the most severe side effects of THC in pets is arrhythmia, characterized by an erratic heartbeat. 

Arrhythmias can lead to severe complications, including insufficient blood flow, tissue damage, and even cardiac arrest and death. 

4. THC Can Make Your Pet Dizzy

Pets that consume THC exhibit signs of dizziness and loss of balance; while this seems typical, it could be from dehydration, a common side effect of THC consumption.

However, dizziness can be significantly more dangerous if it causes your pet to fall. They could easily injure themselves, falling down a flight of stairs or off a bed or couch.

5. THC Can Make Your Pets Lethargic

Extreme lethargy is a common side effect of THC in pets. Most pets lie down or sleep for long periods. Even after the apparent effects of the THC wears off, they could have decreased energy and disinterest in food and water.

6. THC Can Cause Incontinence (Loss of Bladder Control)

Many animals with THC in their system cannot control their bladder and may urinate around the house. This isn’t fun for you or your pet. Pets that are house trained and have accidents feel shameful and stressed out when they make mistakes — even if it wasn’t their fault.  

My Pet Consumed THC — What Do I Do?

image of a dog face and a hemp leaf

It can be panic-inducing if your pet accidentally consumes THC products. The results can range from mild discomfort to hospitalization. Most of the time, your animal will sleep it off, but it all depends on how much your animal consumed before you managed to stop them.

It’s especially dangerous if your pet manages to consume concentrates or edibles that contain other substances toxic to dogs or cats, such as xylitol, caffeine, or chocolate. 

Here’s what to do if your pet consumed delta 8 THC: 

Find Out How Much They Ate

First, figure out how much THC your pet ate and if the product had any dangerous ingredients. 

If they ate delta 8 gummies or edibles, it should be relatively straightforward to estimate the amount.

The lethal dose of delta 8 THC for most pets is around 3g/kg

This is a very high dose, so it’s unlikely your pet will manage to eat enough delta 8 for it to be lethal — but some side effects could have lasting consequences if it isn’t managed effectively.

Give Your Animal Space to Rest, But Keep An Eye On Them

Unless your pet managed to eat the entire bag of gummies, or they consumed a product with other toxic substances for dogs (like chocolate), you probably don’t need to rush over to the nearest animal hospital right away. 

Give your pet a quiet place to lay down and relax. They’re going to be extra stressed out if there’s too much going on while the THC kicks in. 

Check on them periodically and make sure they have enough water and food available as the rest. 

It’s important to know the signs of more severe reactions going on so you can intervene if necessary: 

When Should I Take My Pet to the Vet or ER?

Take your pet to the vet for emergency services if the amount is close to the lethal dose or if your pet shows signs of THC poisoning.

A technician will pump the pet’s stomach or administer enemas or activated charcoal to limit absorption. Other medications can help reduce the amount of THC absorbed into your pet’s bloodstream, and the vet can ensure your pet remains hydrated if they refuse to drink on their own.

The following are common signs of THC poisoning in animals. While you can usually treat your pet at home, some symptoms are severe and require help.

Signs THC Toxicity in Pets

  • Stumbling or falling over
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Severe agitation & anxiety
  • Hypothermia
  • Tachycardia
  • Crying or moaning
  • Loss of consciousness

Why Would You Give Your Pet THC?

Many individuals use THC and delta 8 THC to ease stress and anxiety. Some pet owners have furry friends who are anxious or stressed because of external stimuli and believe THC will help.

Dogs and cats typically get stressed because of thunderstorms, fireworks, visitors (especially other dogs), traffic noises, and more. It’s natural to want to help them deal with these situations. 

However, THC is not a good solution, and you should always avoid offering it to them. There are currently no good reasons for giving THC to dogs or cats.

However, other cannabinoids, like CBD, have many benefits to offer animals struggling with anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and more. 

CBD for Pets: Safety & Dosage

CBD is widely used in both dogs and cats. It’s non-psychoactive and doesn’t bring nearly the same level of risk as delta 8 or delta 9 THC. 

You can find CBD-infused dog treats, cat treats, or pet oils from virtually any reputable CBD company these days. 

CBD Risks & Side Effects

As with anything, there’s always the risk of a rare adverse reaction, especially if other medications are involved. If your pet takes prescription or other drugs, talk with the vet before giving any CBD.

Otherwise, side effects seem to be minimal. 

The most common side effects of CBD in pets include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lethargy

CBD Dosage for Pets

Again, without tests, it isn’t easy to give specific numbers. The general rule for dogs is a daily limit of 5 mg of CBD per every 2.2 lbs. 

For cats, use 1-5mg daily for every 10 lbs. 

It’s best to start with small doses and see how your pet reacts. You can always give more if you do not see any improvement after 3 or 4 doses. 

Finding the Right CBD for Your Pet

The American Kennel Club suggests buying only organic and lab-tested CBD. Cheaper CBD products could contain too much THC or harmful pesticides and chemicals. 

While you can buy CBD pet treats, oil is more efficient and makes for easy, more accurate dosing.

Final Thoughts: Why You Should Avoid Giving Delta 8 THC To Pets

Delta 8 THC is similar to delta 9 THC and is likely to impact your pet negatively. Instead of helping them relax, it can cause severe anxiety, incontinence, drooling, instability, dizziness, and lethargy. 

Though rare, more severe problems are possible as well.

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that promotes calmness, making it an excellent alternative for reducing anxiety and stress in your pet.

Speak with your vet if your pet is taking any medications or has underlying health issues. While rare, CBD may have negative interactions with other medications or certain health conditions. 

References Used

  1. Fitzgerald, K. T., Bronstein, A. C., & Newquist, K. L. (2013). Marijuana poisoning. Topics in companion animal medicine, 28(1), 8-12. [1
  2. Johnstone, G., Marijuana Poisoning in Dogs Apr 21, 2021 [2]

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