March 18 - 24 is Poison Prevention Week. Although tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive compound in cannabis is not a poison, consumed in excess amounts it can be toxic, though generally not fatal to pets.
With more and more people having legal access to medical cannabis, the number of pets being treated by veterinarians for THC overdose has steadily increased.
Pets can accidentally consume THC in many ways including inhaling smoke, ingesting pills, tinctures or oils or even eating an edible.
Signs of overdose include static ataxia (loss of balance), lethargy, vomiting, drooling, body tremors, seizures, etc.
STEP ONE - provide cannabidiol (CBD) to help neutralize THC
CBD is a known THC inhibitor. It works by blocking THC from binding with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This can minimize the effects of THC. Medical research shows definite evidence of THC metabolizing at a different rate when cannabidiol was administered.*
A CBD dose can be administered to a pet that is showing signs of being ‘high’ or exhibiting behaviors indicating toxicity.
Because there is limited research in the area of CBD for pets, there are no set guidelines for the exact dosage to neutralize the effects of THC. Based upon the calculation of 1.5 mg per pound for 150 pound human, a 50 pound dog would require approximately 34 mg. CBD is non-toxic, so offering more based on each individual animal’s need can be beneficial.
STEP TWO - (or step one if you do not have CBD oil on hand) - rush your pet to the vet
While it is extremely rare that an overdose of THC will lead to death, veterinarians have reported death due to associated circumstances when not immediately seeking veterinary care:
- Dog asphyxiating on his/her own vomit
- Dog consuming chocolate edibles (chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs)
- Dog consuming other toxic ingredients in edible form (xylitol, onion, etc.)
Currently, a majority of veterinary hospitals/clinics do not stock CBD. Through the tireless efforts of several veterinarians working diligently to change laws regarding CBD and more and more veterinarians discovering the numerous benefits for pets, we are hopeful that this will change in the not too distant future.
*In 1996 a study was conducted by the Department of Pharmacy, at the University of California, San Francisco determining that cannabidiol inhibited the metabolization of tetrahydrocannabinol and cyclosporine (an immunosuppressive drug used to prevent the rejection of grafts and transplants), in mouse and human microsomes. The study found that cannabidiol selectively decreased THC levels in human cells, specifically the group of metabolizing enzymes in the human liver. Another study was conducted early last year in January of 2013 that found CBD inhibited paranoid and psychotic symptoms in human test subjects when administered prior to dosing intravenous THC. - Inhibition of cyclosporine and tetrahydrocannabinol metabolism by cannabidiol in mouse and human microsomes. [W Jaeger, L Z Benet, L M Bornheim Department of Pharmacy, University of California, SF]