Can Pets Get High From Second Hand Marijuana Smoke?

Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden - Content Writer

Dec 07 2020 - 4 min read

In an entire lifetime fraught with anxiety, two changes above all others have made hugely positive impacts on my condition. One is animal and the other is … well, not vegetable but it’s in the same ballpark. I’ll be specific — it’s my dog and my doctor-recommended medical marijuana.

Zuzu is the name of the pooch I adopted from a rescue shelter two years ago and, immediately, she brightened my world and lifted my mood on a daily basis. Everyone’s best guess is that Zuzu is some kind of Schnauzer-poodle mix, but, of course, it doesn’t matter. She is 100 percent joy to me.

Still, even though Zuzu lowered my stress overall, anxiety has been a very serious and even debilitating issue for me since childhood. I’ve been in therapy for a long time, which helps, and in the past I tried any number of various prescription pills, which didn’t.

So once medical marijuana was legalized last year in Oklahoma, where I live, I decided to give it a try. The improvement to my overall health and well-being happened fast and it has been nothing short of miraculous.

But, then, as I was smoking one evening while Zuzu was curled up next to me, I did have a few troubling thoughts. The first was, “Is marijuana smoke bad for my dog?” The second was, “Can marijuana smoke get my dog high?” Then finally there was the question, “Is it bad for my dog to get high from my second hand weed smoke?”

Fortunately, right then, the medical cannabis was doing its natural work to alleviate my worries so I didn’t spin out into a full-blown panic attack. I simply made a note to check with Zuzu’s vet, Dr. Landau, the next morning. So that’s what I did, and that’s how I got my answers.

Can my dog or cat get high on weed?

Dr. Landau told me straight away that, yes, dogs can and do get high from the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana and, unlike with people, it is not good for them, nor do they enjoy it. Therefore, he recommended I smoke my medical marijuana in an area where Zuzu is not in the vicinity.

For dogs, the doctor said, the primary issue is second-hand smoke. Breathing in any kind of smoke through their powerful olfactory systems can be harmful, but what’s more dangers, he said, is that canines possess far more cannabinoid receptors than humans do.

Also, because dogs are also smaller in size than people, it takes much less THC for them to feel the effect. The smaller the dog, the easier it is for them to get high. And that’s where the real trouble can start.

Because dogs don’t choose to smoke weed or go into it knowing what it can do, they often react to the effect of getting high with fear, panic, and confusion, and those conditions can lead to physical reactions such as shaking, drooling, vomiting, involuntary urination, or even seizures. Yow!

In other words, I smoke weed to alleviate anxiety, but if my dog inhales enough of my weed smoke, she may fall prey to anxiety herself. And, believe me, that is the absolute last thing to which I’d want to do to Zuzu or any other animal.

Speaking of other animals, I asked about cats. My neighbor Mary, who also consumes medical weed to help with her chronic pain, has two felines who I absolutely adore, named Caesar and Cleo. So I had those two fluff balls on my mind.

“Can cats get high from weed?” I asked Dr. Landau. He said, yes, cats can also get stoned from second-hand marijuana smoke and that it is similarly upsetting and discombobulating to them. What’s more, he said, cats are especially susceptible to third-hand smoke, which was something I’d never even heard of before.

Third-hand smoke, the vet said, is a term for when smoke is so present in a physical environment that it penetrates surfaces such as furniture and clothing. So hotboxing your weed at home is definitely out for both dog and cat owners. Again, the doctor said, the issue is THC.

“I do want to point out the difference between THC and CBD for pets,” Dr. Landau said. “THC, which is the element of the cannabis plant that gets you high, is bad for cats and dogs. CBD, another component of the plant, can actually be enormously helpful to animals and I regularly recommend it to my patients’ families for their furry pals who are nervous or distracted.”

Is CBD suitable and safe for my pets?

I had heard about CBD (cannabidiol) for pets, but didn’t quite know what to make of it. The doctor explained.

“Just as CBD doesn’t get people high, CBD won’t get pets high,” he said. “And just as CBD can be tremendously beneficial to people with all sorts of ailments, it can also help out dogs and cats in very much the same way.”

Dr. Landau then recommended some specific CBD pet products and brands for me to check out with Zuzu in mind. She is a dear, sweet dog, but she is my dog, after all, so I think she sometimes reacts to my bouts of anxiousness in a way that makes her anxious as well.

Does CBD work for dogs?

Since my chat with the vet, both my friend Mary and I have created spaces in our animal-free apartments that are strictly reserved for smoking. Each room has a door that can close and windows that can open. Sometimes we even hang out and light up together.

At the same time, I ordered some pet CBD for Zuzu and I’ve noticed an immediate difference. One drop of oil in a spoonful of cream cheese and she is more even keeled, she sleeps better, and when we curl up together, I think we’re each more relaxed knowing that cannabis benefits both of us, just by using different delivery systems.

Is CBD useful for dogs?

My personal experiences say, “yes”. Now, as nice as this is, personal experiences are not science. Moreover, we are only just beginning to understand how various cannabinoids and terpenes affect humans, let alone other animals (except for mice). However, there are some studies on using CBD for dogs, and they are positive. ‘Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs’ says “This pharmacokinetic and clinical study suggests that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with OA.”. So, just as CBD may help people with arthritis, so too can it help dogs! In fact, many pet owners have reported mostly positive effects when using CBD for their furry friends.

Written by
Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden - Content Writer

Mike McPadden is a Chicago-based writer, author, editor and podcaster. After years of contributing to Snoop Dogg’s Merry Jane website, he comes to Leafwell as a true believer in both the moral and medical power of cannabis. Mike has also written for Vice, Kindland, MTV, Investigation Discovery, Showtime, and other cultural outlets. He hopes you will listen to his podcasts (Crackpot Cinema; Busted Guts; 70 Movies We Saw in the 70s) and buy his books (Teen Movie Hell [2019] and Heavy Metal Movies [2014]).

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