Cardiac Arrhythmias in Dogs

Overview of Cardiac Arrhythmias in Dogs

Cardiac arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that can occur in dogs. These disorders are classified based on the area of the heart in which they originate. They originate either in the upper chambers of the heart, the lower chambers of the heart, the area of the heart responsible for creating the heartbeat, or the electrical conduction system within the heart.

Each heartbeat originates as an electrical impulse in the upper right chamber of the heart (sinoatrial [SA] node). The impulse then travels across the upper chambers of the heart (atria), to an intermediate station (atrioventricular [AV] node), and finally to the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). The electrical impulse generates the typical pattern seen on an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). Disturbance in the generation or transmission of the electrical impulse in the heart causes a cardiac arrhythmia. Some cardiac arrhythmias are temporary and do not cause illness. Others are serious and may be life threatening.

Cardiac arrhythmias may affect dogs of any age or sex. They may also affect any breed, but there are some breeds that are more at risk of developing arrhythmias than others. Giant breeds of dog are more prone to a type of arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation, which is rapid abnormal beat originating in the atria. Labrador retrievers are prone to supraventricular tachycardia, which is a rapid heart rate originating just above the ventricles. Doberman pinschers and boxers are prone to ventricular tachycardia, which is a rapid abnormal heart beat originating in ventricles. Sick sinus syndrome is an abnormality that affects the SA node: It most commonly occurs in miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, cocker spaniels, and West Highland white terriers. Spaniels, German shepherds and Labrador retrievers are predisposed to certain types of heart block.

The prognosis (outlook) for animals with cardiac arrhythmias depends on the type of arrhythmia, the underlying cause of the arrhythmia, and the type and extent of any existing heart disease. Dogs in congestive heart failure have a guarded-to-poor prognosis.

What to Watch For

  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Slow heart rate
  • Fast heart rate
  • Erratic heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lack of appetite

Diagnosis of Cardiac Arrhythmias in Dogs

Blood work, including a complete blood count and biochemical profile, should be performed to look for any underlying abnormalities. Some dogs may be anemic, have an elevated white blood cell count, or have organ dysfunction. Some diseases, such as hypothyroidism, may be the cause of cardiac arrhythmias.

Cardiac arrhythmias are diagnosed with an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG). The type of arrhythmia can be diagnosed from an ECG oscilloscope or from a printout of the trace.

Thoracic (chest) radiographs (X-rays) may help determine if heart disease or heart failure are present.

A cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram) is sometimes performed to determine evaluate cardiac function and identify any underlying heart disease.

Treatment of Cardiac Arrhythmias in Dogs

Treatment depends on the severity of the arrhythmia and the presence of any underlying disease. There are a variety of cardiac arrhythmias and each is managed differently. Some are serious and require medication or even electric shock treatment. Others are innocuous and do not require any treatment at all.

In addition to treating the cardiac arrhythmia, any underlying heart disease or other disease should also be addressed.

Home Care and Prevention

There is no home care for abnormal heart rhythms, except that you should administer any medications your veterinarian prescribes. If you suspect that your dog has an abnormal heart rate or rhythm, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Cardiac arrhythmias are difficult to prevent, but early diagnosis and treatment of predisposing causes can reduce the risk of arrhythmias developing.

Information In-depth on Canine Arrhythmias

Normal heart rhythms begin in the sinoatrial (SA or sinus) node, which is located in the right upper chamber (atrium) of the heart. While abnormalities of the sinus node are typically a consequence of a systemic disorder, such as hypo- or hyperthyroidism, primary sinus disease is common and can lead to a type of arrhythmia known as sick sinus syndrome. Other arrhythmias arising outside of the SA node may occur. Among the most serious of these is atrial fibrillation. Arrhythmias arising from the ventricles include premature ventricular contractions and ventricular tachycardia. More serious arrhythmias sometimes lead to cardiac decompensation and acute or chronic heart failure. Some arrhythmias worsen to the point of fibrillation and eventually the absence of any heartbeat (asystole).

Cardiac arrhythmias can lead to a very slow heart rate (potentially as slow at 40 beats per minute), termed bradycardia; very fast heart rate (potentially over 200 beats per minute in a dog), termed tachycardia; or an erratic heart beat. Numerous different types of arrhythmias may occur. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial tachycardia
  • Ventricular escape rhythm
  • Ventricular premature complex
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • First-degree heart block
  • Second-degree heart block
  • Third-degree heart block

Often, cardiac arrhythmias are associated with underlying heart disease, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, congestive cardiac failure, or cardiac birth defects. In addition, a variety of other diseases or events may cause cardiac arrhythmias including:

  • Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid gland)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Anemia
  • An overdose of certain medications such as digoxin, narcotics, xylazine
  • Administration of anesthetic agents
  • High or low blood potassium
  • Tumors of the heart
  • Trauma
  • Toxicity, such as chocolate poisoning
  • Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease – a disease of the adrenal glands)
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Lyme disease
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Head trauma
  • Hypothermia
  • Fear
  • Excitement
  • Pain
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus
  • Diseases of the spleen
  • Severe infections

Diagnosis In-depth

Cardiac arrhythmias are often detected during physical examination. Your veterinarian will listen to your dog’s heart with a stethoscope to determine if its heart rate is too slow, too fast, or erratic. If an arrhythmia is detected or suspected, it is confirmed by means of an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG). Your dog will be positioned on his right side and will have clips or pads attached to his arms and legs. This procedure is painless. The ECG is then turned on and a tracing is obtained of the electrical activity of the heart. The tracing is examined to determine if the heart rate and rhythm.

All About the Ragdoll Personality

The Ragdoll cat is big and affectionate. The Ragdoll is among the largest of the domestic cats. The Ragdoll cat matures slowly. This breed does not reach their full size and coat development until they are about three to four years of age. Males can range up to 20 pounds in size while the smaller females range from 10 to 15 pounds in size.

The Ragdoll cat has beautiful baby blue eyes and a semi-long coat in a pointed pattern. There are four different coat patterns for a Ragdoll: bicolor, mitted, van and colorpoint. The mitted, bicolor and van coat have white while the colorpoint coat has no white. If your Ragdoll has a colorpoint pattern, it will have a light body color with a contrasting darker color on the extremities, the mask, and the ears. The bicolor Ragdoll also has dark points but exhibits an inverted V on the forehead. Its stomach, legs, and ruff are white. The mitted Ragdoll cat also shows points, but the feet and the chin are white. Vans have the most white on the body.

The Ragdoll coat comes in six different colors – seal, blue, chocolate, red, lilac and cream – giving the breed a variety of looks. The coat varies from semi-long to long, and it is silky and plush. Ragdolls are known to shed year-round.

The Ragdoll cat was created by breeder Ann Baker in California in the 1960s. She called the cat the Ragdoll because it would happily flop into the arms of anyone who would pick it up. Ms. Baker registered the new cat breed and then launched the International Ragdoll Cat Association. She trademarked the new cat breed name and established her own detailed breeding criteria for the Ragdoll cat breed.

Ragdoll Personality, Temperament, and Traits

The Ragdoll personality is calm and even-tempered. Sweet, friendly and loving, this cat is relaxed and very good natured. This is one of the main reasons that the Ragdoll is one of the most popular breeds in America according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

The Ragdoll is eager to greet you at the front door and to follow you anywhere you want to go. The Ragdoll has even been nicknamed the “puppy cat” because of its desire to follow its humans around from one room to another, and because the Ragdoll simply loves to be held, cuddled and loved.

The Ragdoll personality gets along well with all family members as well as dogs and other household cats. Changes in routine do not usually upset the Ragdoll and she is the perfect companion for apartment living.

Your Ragdoll will happily greet you at the door and sleep with you in bed. The Ragdoll personality is fun-loving. Ragdolls enjoy a good game of fetch. This good-natured cat is a natural with children. The Ragdoll personality can even get along well with dogs.

As for being vocal, the Ragdoll cat is surprisingly quiet. Their small, sweet voice is soft and musical.

The Ragdoll has a moderate energy level and a very laid-back demeanor. This cat is happy to be picked up and carried around in your arms. Rather than climbing to the highest spot in your home, the Ragdoll prefers to stay at ground level. They prefer lying on your feet or in your lap. They love snuggling with their owners and having a fuss made over them.

A lover of water, the Ragdoll cat has been known to jump into the bath with its owner.

Ragdoll cats can learn quickly with positive reinforcement. They can even be taught to play fetch, to come when called and to walk on a leash.

The Ragdoll cat is easy to live with, happily interacting with its family members. The Ragdoll personality is well suited to any home where people are willing to love him and give his beautiful coat a brushing at least once a week. But because of its intensely social nature, this is not a cat that you can leave alone for long periods of time every day. If you want to get a Ragdoll cat, but you have to work, think about getting two Ragdolls so that they can keep each other company while you are gone.

To learn more about cat personality, go to What You Need to Know About Cat Personality.

Related articles:

Great Names for Ragdoll Cats
10 Things You Should Know About Ragdoll Cats
Choosing a Ragdoll

All About the Calico Personality

Calico is not a breed of cat. The word “Calico” actually refers to the cat’s coat coloring. Calico cats have patches of three different colors in their coats – white, black and orange. The Calico cat is different from the Tortoiseshell cat. It has the same colors (white, black and orange), but in the Tortoiseshell cat these colors are swirled together instead of in patches.

Calico cats can be found in many breeds including:

  • American Shorthair
  • American Curl
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Persian
  • Devon Rex
  • Cornish Rex
  • Munchkin
  • British Shorthair
  • Turkish Van
  • Sphynx
  • Manx
  • Scottish Fold
  • Siberian
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • LaPerm

The origin of the Calico cat is unknown, but most think that they originated in Egypt. From there they may have been brought down the Mediterranean to Italy, Spain and France. Today, Calico cats can be found all around the globe.

Here’s another interesting fact about Calico cats – most Calicos are female. Here’s why. Males have one X and one Y chromosome while females have two X chromosomes. In cats, the gene that determines fur color is located on the X sex chromosome. While both male and female cats can get the orange gene from just one chromosome, it requires two X chromosomes for a cat to be Calico or Tortoiseshell. That almost always means that Calico cats are female. It should be noted that about one in every 3,000 Calico cats is male. These male Calico cats have an extra X chromosome (XXY), which differs from the usual XY chromosomes of the normal male.

One in every 3,000 male Calico cats is born sterile.

Here’s something you may not have known about the Calico cat. You can’t breed Calicos. The Calico hair color happens by chance – they are not a genetically engineered breed.

Calico Personality, Temperament, and Traits

There are scientifically documented studies about behavior and personality in specific cat breeds. But since Calico cats can be found in many different cat breeds, the Calico personality will vary. Calico cats are very different from one another and they engage in different behavior. However, a few characteristics have been attributed to the Calico cat.

The Cat Breeds Encyclopedia attributes some unique characteristics to the Calico personality. They are said to have sweet, endearing personalities. The Calico cat is said to be warm-hearted, affectionate, intelligent and good with children.

The Calico personality is also thought to be quirky. They are said to have a sassy but loving personality.

Some Calico cats have even been credited with intelligent acts of bravery, like saving their human and animal families or their entire litter of kittens from a burning building.

Ultimately, the Calico personality will be determined by a variety of factors including breed, experience and environment.

Fun Facts about Calico Cats and the Calico Personality

Here are some fun facts about Calico cats.

  • Because of their rarity, Calico cats are considered “lucky” by many around the world. The Calico cat is thought to bring good fortune to the homes and families that adopt them. They are also considered to be a little magical because of their three colors.
  • In the 1870s, Calico cats were named the official symbol of fortune in Japan.
  • The Calico cat became the official cat of the state of Maryland in 2001. The Calico cat was chosen because the colors of its fur are similar to that of the Baltimore Oriole, which is the official state bird.
  • According to Irish folklore, if you have a wart that you want to get rid of, just rub it against a Calico cat’s tail.

To Learn more about cat personality, go to What You Need to Know About Cat Personality.

Related articles:

Naming Your Calico Cat: Name Ideas for Calico Cats
Why Are Calico Cats Female?

All About the Russian Blue Personality

The Russian Blue has a luxurious silver-blue coat, vibrant green eyes, and long legs and body. This robust medium-sized breed is long, slender, muscular and elegant. One cat judge called the Russian Blue the “Doberman Pinscher of cats” because of his elegant yet muscular body.

The Russian Blue looks much bigger than it really is because of its double coat which is dense, silky and plush. If you were to run your fingers through the coat of a Russian Blue, the patterns made by your fingers would remain there until they were petted smooth. The Russian Blue stands out for his coat color. While his coat may appear gray, cat show terminology would call him a bright blue with silver-tipped hairs.

The striking eye color of the Russian Blue adds to it captivating physical qualities. When the Russian Blue is a kitten, it is born with yellow eyes. At about four months of age a bright green ring appears around the pupil, and as the cat matures the eye color grows to a bright, vivid green. The contrast between the bright green eyes and the shimmering silver blue color of the coat is beautiful to behold.

The Russian Blue has a slightly upturned mouth which looks a little bit like a smile. It is sometimes compared to the Mona Lisa smile.

Little is known about the actual origins of the Russian Blue. He probably did come from Russia and his thick coat is that of a cat from colder climates. It is believed that British sailors brought these cats home from the White Sea port town of Archangel in Northern Russia.

The breed’s development took place primarily in Britain and Scandinavia beginning in the late nineteenth century. The Russian Blue made its first appearance on the world stage in 1875 at an exhibit of cats held at London’s Crystal Palace. The Russian Blue was labeled an Archangel Cat because it was believed to be from the Russian island of Archangel. A British cat fancier named Mrs. Carew-Cox began importing the breed in 1890. She bred and showed the cats through the turn of the century. But World War II nearly put an end to the Russian Blue breed; most of the Russian Blues were killed.

Russian Blues were first imported to the United States in the 1900s. After World War II, American breeders began to develop their own lines after the war. Since the 1960s, the Russian Blue began gaining popularity and has become a favorite at cat shows and in homes.

Russian Blue Personality, Temperament, and Traits

The Russian Blue personality is gentle, sweet and affectionate. This is a reserved cat, but once he gets comfortable with you he can be a playful, loving companion. Described as elegant and reserved, the Russian Blue personality is affectionate but not clingy toward family members. He will probably want to sleep with you and to be with you as you go about your daily chores. He also loves to be combed while you are sitting watching TV.

The Russian Blue makes an excellent, loyal companion – constantly following its owners around the house and generally preferring one human over all others in the family. The Russian Blue personality gets along with everyone, including children. The Russian Blue personality does best with older children who won’t scare him. However, if he is raised with your children or with cat-friendly dogs he can get along well with them.

When guests come to your house your Russian Blue will likely retreat, although he may choose to interact with them later if he determines them to be acceptable company. They never rush into a situation without carefully observing first. This Russian Blue personality trait has earned this breed the reputation of being shy or aloof.

This is a sensitive cat who doesn’t like to be ignored. In fact, he will be hurt if he doesn’t receive the same amount of affection that he gives. When he doesn’t get attention, the Russian Blue may become anxious or fearful.

The Russian Blue can be easily startled. They can become nervous or shy around strangers and in strange environments.

The Russian Blue has a quiet voice and is not especially vocal, however they will respond if you talk to them and they can learn the meaning of many words.

The Russian Blue personality is playful. This cat loves to play, especially fetch. He loves jumping and climbing up to the highest places where he can study the people in his home and his environment before deciding whether or not he wants to get involved.

All About the Bengal Cat Personality

Is the Bengal cat the right breed for you? Well, here’s the bottom line. Don’t get a Bengal if you’re looking for a sweet, gentle lap cat.

This is not a delicate cat. The Bengal cat is a long, muscular, athletic, medium to large sized cat weighing about 8 to 15 pounds or more. This is a highly active and athletic cat with the grace of a jungle cat. Because of their high intelligence and wild ancestry, Bengal cats tend to have some strange behavioral quirks.

The Bengal cat has a very lush, soft coat and distinct leopard-like spots. The coat is sometimes referred to as “glittered” because it can have an iridescent shine. The coat can be spotted, marbled, bull’s eye or rosette. The preferred colors are black or brown spotted, or black or brown marbled.

This cat can move quietly and with great stealth. The back legs are slightly longer than the front legs, so the hind end sits a little higher than the shoulders, which lends to this breed’s wild appearance.

The Bengal cat is the result of breeding a small, wild Asian leopard cat with a domestic shorthair. Jean S. Mill began the Bengal cat breeding program in 1963. Today, Bengals are considered to be one and the same with domestic cats, and they should be at least four generations removed from any ancestors with wild bloodlines. The International Cat Association granted the breed experimental status in 1983, followed by full recognition in 1991.

Now, let’s take a look at the Bengal cat personality.

Bengal Cat Personality, Temperament and Traits

The Bengal cat may not be the cat for everyone – especially not for first-time cat owners. The Bengal cat personality makes this cat fun to live with, but he can sometimes be challenging. The Bengal cat is very friendly. He is always alert and he notices everything. The Bengal cat is extremely intelligent, curious and active, and demanding of a lot of interaction.

When a Bengal cat gets bored, he can get into things and become destructive. He can take things apart to see how they work, and he can even open draws and cabinets to see what he can find. Be sure to hide your jewelry from your Bengal cat because he loves to take things and hide them.

The Bengal cat personality is playful, so keep your Bengal cat entertained. He enjoys playing games and likes a good game of fetch. Give the Bengal cat a good puzzle toy that will challenge his intelligence and he’ll be hooked! Bengals also like learning tricks. You should reward them with treats when they learn a trick or master a new puzzle game. Bengal cats also enjoy the attention they get from clicker training.

The Bengal cat loves water play. That means the Bengal might jump into the tub or shower with you, or swim alongside you in the swimming pool. A Bengal cat loves a running faucet. When drinking from his water bowl, a Bengal cat may dip his paw into the water and lick the water from his paw, and he may enjoy splashing the water out of his bowl. He will also enjoy a nice pet drinking fountain. Be wary of having an aquarium with a Bengal cat.

Bengal cats love to climb, and they need a lot of vertical territory. The higher up, the better – they can often be found perched at the highest reachable point in the home, wherever that may be. Cat trees are a very good diversion for a Bengal cat.

These highly intelligent cats are avid hunters and fishers. They love to catch fish and small animals.

The Bengal cat personality is very friendly. The Bengal can be an affectionate breed if he is raised properly. He is not a lap cat, but he enjoys human company and will stay close to his humans. Bengal cats love people and will do anything to get attention from them. Even if the Bengal cat figures out that you don’t like something he does, he will continue to do it again and again just to get your attention and to get you to interact with him. The Bengal cat personality is fond of children. Bengal cats enjoy playing games and interacting with energetic children.

Bengal cats are big talkers. This breed is very vocal and loves to talk to their humans.

All cats are different, but most Bengal cats will get along well with other pets, including dogs. Bengal cats can be territorial, so if you want to have more than one cat it is a good idea to get the cats at the same time.

What You Need to Know About Cat Personalities

Do cats have personalities? You bet they do! In fact, cat personality can be classified into one of five different cat personality traits that are actually very similar to human behavior.

In a study done at the University of South Australia, 3,000 cats were tested to determine cat personality. The cats in the study displayed a range of “human” behaviors that researchers were able to classify into five distinct cat personalities.

  • Skittishness – Cats with high scores in skittishness are more anxious or high strung. They may appear insecure, anxious or fearful of people. Skittish cats may benefit from having hiding spots in the home. Also, you should be aware of your cat’s environment and try to identify any conditions that could be stressing your cat out. A cat who scores low in skittishness is usually very well adjusted to its environment.
  • Outgoingness – An outgoing cat is especially curious or nosy. These cats love to explore and investigate, and they need more mental stimulation and environmental enrichment. If they are bored, they can resort to destructive behavior. If your cat scores high in the “outgoingness” category, he may benefit from additional toys and active playtime. Aging cats and cats with certain health issues may score lower in this category.
  • Dominance – Dominant cats are bullies that can make a multi-cat home stressful and frustrating. A dominant cat may commandeer household resources like food, toys and the litter box. If your cat scores high on the dominance scale, he may have difficulties being around other cats. If your cat scores low on dominance, she may adjust well to being in a multi-cat household. If you have a dominant cat in your multi-cat home, make sure that each cat has its own food, water and litter. Place them in different areas of the home.
  • Spontaneity – Cats who score high on this cat personality trait could be reacting to something in their environment that is stressful. This type of cat may be a little erratic, reacting differently to the same situation on different occasions. If you cat scores low in impulsivity or spontaneity, it could mean that the cat is well adjusted to their environment and may enjoy routine.
  • Friendliness – This is a well-adjusted cat. The friendly or agreeable cat is often the result of a cat that was well-socialized as a kitten. If your cat scores high in friendliness, he may adjust well to people and other pets in the home. Cats with a low score in friendliness may enjoy a more solitary lifestyle.

If you struggle with your cat’s behavior problems or if you have a multi-cat household where certain cats can’t seem to get along, understanding cat personality may help you to understand why your cat is behaving in a certain way. That understanding can help you develop a plan. You can make certain adjustments to the home or provide your cat with something that is missing, like environmental enrichment or a safe place to hide.

Understanding your cat’s normal cat personality can also help you to better monitor your cat’s health. Changes in your cat’s personality could signal underlying medical issues. For instance, if your cat is normally outgoing and suddenly becomes withdrawn or is hiding more often, a medical issue could be the reason.

All About the Bengal Cat Personality

The Bengal cat may not be the cat for everyone – especially not for first-time cat owners. The Bengal cat personality makes this cat fun to live with, but he can sometimes be challenging. The Bengal cat is very friendly. He is always alert and he notices everything. The Bengal cat is extremely intelligent, curious and active, and demanding of a lot of interaction.

When a Bengal cat gets bored, he can get into things and become destructive. He can take things apart to see how they work, and he can even open draws and cabinets to see what he can find. Be sure to hide your jewelry from your Bengal cat because he loves to take things and hide them.

Here are some more traits in the Bengal cat personality:

The Bengal cat personality is playful, so keep your Bengal cat entertained. Bengals enjoy games, playing fetch, a good puzzle toy that will challenge his intelligence and learning tricks. Bengal cats also enjoy the attention they get from clicker training.

  • The Bengal cat loves water play. That means the Bengal might jump into the tub or shower with you, or swim alongside you in the swimming pool. Be wary of having an aquarium with a Bengal cat.
  • Bengal cats love to climb, and they need a lot of vertical territories. The higher up, the better – they can often be found perched at the highest reachable point in the home.
  • These highly intelligent cats are avid hunters and fishers. They love to catch fish and small animals.
  • The Bengal cat personality is very friendly. Bengal cats love people and will do anything to get attention from them.
  • Bengal cats are big talkers. This breed is very vocal and loves to talk to their humans.
  • All cats are different, but most Bengal cats will get along well with other pets, including dogs.
  • Bengal cats can be territorial, so if you want to have more than one cat it is a good idea to get the cats at the same time.

To learn more about the Bengal cat personality, go to All About the Bengal Cat Personality.

All About the Russian Blue Personality

The Russian Blue personality is gentle, sweet and affectionate. This is a reserved cat, but once he gets comfortable with you he can be a playful, loving companion. Described as elegant and reserved, the Russian Blue personality is affectionate but not clingy toward family members. He will probably want to sleep with you and to be with you as you go about your daily chores. He also loves to be combed while you are sitting watching TV.

What’s the Right Dosage of CBD Oil for Dogs?

Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil for Dogs

Since the legalization of marijuana in many states, there is much interest in marijuana as well as in CBD oil. We will review what is CBD oil, how it differs from marijuana, discuss the benefits of CBD oil, and answer the question about what’s the right dosage of CBD oil for dogs.

How Does CBD Oil Differ From Marijuana

Marijuana is a drug derived from the Cannabis plant and is classified as a psychoactive drug. As marijuana has been researched and explored for the medical benefits, much interest has been placed on the Cannabis plant. Because of the availability of marijuana, there has been in increase in exposures and toxicity of marijuana to pets. Learn more about Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs and Is Marijuana Toxic to Cats?

The Cannabis plant has been around for thousands of years and is known to contain over 450 chemicals and over 80 cannabinoids. A cannabinoid is a class of chemicals isolated from Cannabis that can cause various effects on the body. The amount and concentration of each cannabinoid varies with the different plant and strain of plant.

The two most studied and available cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most potent and psychogenic cannabinoid. It is used medically to treat nausea, muscle spasms, seizures, pain, anxiety as well as other medical problems. Learn more about the ingestion and toxicity of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Cannabidiol (CBD) is has limited or no psychotropic properties. CBD is thought to decrease anxiety, decrease nausea and vomiting, decrease seizure activity, and have anti-inflammatory properties. It is increasingly being used in both human and dogs. Hemp is a type of Cannabis plant that is known to have more CBD than THC. CBD is often extracted from the plant and sold as an “oil”.

How CBD Oil for Dogs Works

Cannabinoids bind with very specific membrane-bound receptors called the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2). Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) are found in the brain and (CB2) receptors are found in the immune system such as the spleen. Cannabidiol (CBD) has little affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors and is thought to work by altering the updated of adenosine which may promote sleep and relaxation.

Can CBD Oil Help Your Dog?

CBD oil is used and prescribed for a variety of uses in dogs. The most common uses of CBD in dogs include:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety and fear problems including noise phobia and separation anxiety
  • Appetite stimulation for a decreased appetite
  • Canine cognitive dysfunction
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Immune system stimulation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Nausea associated with side effects to drug therapy such as chemotherapy
  • Pain relief from arthritis or joint inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Treatment of cancer as some CBD is thought to have an anti-tumor properties
  • Treatment of seizure disorders such as epilepsy

Side Effects of CBD Oil in Dogs

Side effects can occur with any drug or supplement. However, CBD is not psychotropic which means it does not cause the symptoms noted with THC such as lethargy, listlessness, stumbling, glazed over eyes, and urinary incontinence. The overall toxicity of CBD oil in dogs appears to be limited.

In people, the most common side effects of CBD oil include a dry mouth, drowsiness and some experience slight drop in blood pressure. In dogs, this is more difficult to determine and few side effects have been documented. However, some products that are not pure can contain THC and cause psychotropic effects.

The Controversy Over CBD Oil for Dogs

There are substantial differences in the quality and purity of CBD products.

Before we discuss dosing of CBD in dogs, consider the following:

  • We don’t know if CBD really works for most medical conditions in dogs. Research is underway to determine its effect on pain and seizures.
  • Safe dosages of CBD oil in dogs have not been established.
  • It is unknown how CBD interacts with other treatments or medications. There may be undocumented drug interactions that are yet to be determined.
  • There is poor quality control over CBD products. CBD is unregulated by the Federal Government. This means that no agency is looking at the purity, concentration, quality, or if it meets label declarations. There are substantial differences in the quality, presence of preservatives, insecticides, additives, and the actual concentrations of CBD in the various products. In fact, some products have been shown to have little or actually no CBD oil in the product.
  • Impure products may contain various amount of THC which can cause unwanted side effects to your dog.
  • Poor quality products have the potential to be harmful.

In general, it is recommended to obtain a high quality product that is organic, free of preservatives, and additives. Ideally it should be clear that the product has been tested and free of THC.

What is the Dose for CBD Oil in Dogs?

The dose of CBD oil may vary. Please see your veterinarian for recommendations for the best quality and safest product as well as the dose appropriate for your dog and the condition you are trying to treat. Many products indicate dosage recommendations on their labels. The amount you give will be dependent on the concentration of CBD in the product.

Is Marijuana Toxic to Cats?

Is Marijuana Toxic to Cats?

The recent legalization of marijuana for human medicinal treatments has increased marijuana (pot) exposure and toxicity in pets. The Pet Poison Helpline suggests that there has been approximately a 450% increase in veterinary visits and calls to animal poison hotlines from marijuana exposure and toxicity. Most calls are about dogs but cats can also be exposed to and develop marijuana toxicity.

Marijuana, commonly known as pot, refers to a tobacco product made from Cannabis leaves. There are two common species of the Cannabis plant, the Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. There are many compounds that can be extracted from the Cannabis with each having different properties that can create a variety of effects when ingested, absorbed, or inhaled. For example, there are over 80 cannabinoids that create various effects. The amount and concentration of each cannabinoid varies with the different plants and strains of plants.

Of the over 80 cannabinoids, the two most common are studied and used are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as “CBD”.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most potent and psychogenic of the cannabinoids. THC is present in the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis plant. Hashish, another THC containing product, is the resin extracted from the plant. THC is the active ingredient that causes the majority of toxicity signs in cats.

How Marijuana Affects Cats

With the legalization of marijuana, there are many varieties of marijuana as well as many forms. Cannabis can be used by ingestion of various foods including candy, gummy candy, suckers, baked good, butters, as well as by smoking or vaporizing.

Cats can be exposed to marijuana by ingestion of the cigarettes or dried leaves. On the other hand, dried leaves, cigarettes or baked products and candy products that are becoming more common at dispensaries, can expose pets. There are also reports of second hand smoke causing intoxication.
When inhaled or ingested, the THC enters the body and binds with neuroreceptors in the brain including norepinephrine, serotonin dopamine, and/or acetylcholine. This binding alters normal neurotransmitter function.

Is Marijuana Toxic to Cats? Signs of Pot Toxicity in Cats

Marijuana can be toxic to cats. The most common side effects of marijuana intoxication in cats are:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Listlessness
  • Loss of motor coordination or balance (stumbling)
  • Incontinence of urine
  • Low heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory depression
  • Dilated pupils and glazed over eyes
  • Vocalization such as crying or whining
  • Agitation
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Increased stimulation to noises or fast movements (some cats may experience hallucinations)

The signs of exposure can begin as quickly as 5 minutes to 12 hours after exposure. The signs can last from a half hour to several days depending on the amount and type ingested.

When to Take Your Cat to the Vet

If your cat is showing symptoms of ingestion or toxicity, please call your veterinarian immediately.

What Will Your Vet Do or Will They Report You if Your Cat got into Marijuana?

Unfortunately, because of the illegal nature of these drugs and the concern over societal stigmas, diagnosis and treatment are sometimes delayed. This brings up the point – what does your vet do if you bring a cat in with an illegal drug exposure? Learn the answer here.

How Toxic is Marijuana to Cats?

THC is readily stored in the body’s fat tissue including the liver, brain and kidneys. The liver metabolizes it and much of it is excreted in the feces and urine.

The good news is that it is marijuana exposure or ingestion is rarely deadly and long-term complications are uncommon. Toxicity of marijuana is low. It takes about 1.5 grams of marijuana per pound of body weight to be fatal. Therefore, death from marijuana ingestion is not common.

The most severe problems relating to marijuana exposure or ingestion in cats have been from high concentrations of medical grade THC.

Diagnosis of Marijuana Ingestion in Cats

Diagnosis of marijuana ingestion or exposure in cats is often based on the physical exam findings and history of exposure. There are urine tests to determine the presence of THC. Human tests can be used but are not dependable in cats.

Treatment of Marijuana Ingestion in Cats

There is no antidote for marijuana. This means that the treatment of marijuana exposure usually involves trying to eliminate the drug in their system, treat secondary signs, prevent injury, and provide support until the drug is eliminated from their systems.

Treatments may include:

  • Induction of vomiting may be recommended to remove any residual THC in the stomach, however in cats this is not a common recommendation unless the amount ingested is highly concentrated and dangerous.
  • Depending on the severity of the signs, some cats will be administered activated charcoal to help absorb or bind any marijuana in their system.
  • Medications may be given to control vomiting such as maropitant.
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids may be given to help eliminate the drug.
  • In severe cases of marijuana toxicity, drugs may be needed to treat seizures and control abnormal heart rates.
  • It is important to protect cats from injury or self-trauma during this time of intoxication. Because of the range of signs from agitation to lethargy, hallucinations and incoordination, some cats are vulnerable to falling or reacting abnormally to loud noises. The ideal environment for a cat with marijuana ingestion and toxicity is a quiet dark area for cats to rest while the THC is being eliminated from their systems. Limit exposure to stairs or anyplace they can fall.

The vast majority of cats exposed to marijuana fully recover within 24 hours. After ingestion, THC is rapidly absorbed, and generally, within 24 hours, most of the THC has been excreted.

Prevention of Marijuana Toxicity in Cats

If you have marijuana in your home, please keep it out of the reach of your cats. If marijuana is being smoked, keep all cats in a separate area with excellent ventilation until all smoke has dissipated.

Marijuana (Pot, Cannabis, THC) Exposure and Toxicity in Dogs

Overview of Marijuana Exposure and Toxicity in Dogs

The recent legalization of marijuana for human medicinal treatments has increased marijuana (pot) exposure and toxicity in dogs. In fact, according to the Pet Poison Helpline, there has been approximately a 450% increase in veterinary visits and calls to animal poison hotlines from marijuana exposure and toxicity.

Marijuana, also known as “pot”, is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis plant that has been around for hundreds of years. The term Marijuana most commonly refers to the tobacco product made from Cannabis leaves. There are two commonly discussed species of the Cannabis plant – Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Cannabis is used for both recreational and medical purposes.

There are approximately 483 known compounds in the Cannabis plant and over 80 cannabinoids with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being the most potent and psychogenic. The amount and concentration of each cannabinoid varies with the different plants and stains of plants.

THC is present in the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis plant. Hashish, another THC containing product, is the resin extracted from the plant. The second most commonly recognized cannabinoid is cannabidiol, commonly referred to as “CBD”. The difference between the THC and CBD is that THC causes psychotropic effects (affect mentation) while CBD is felt to have limited toxicity and is not psychotropic.

The Cannabis plant is also known as “hemp” but more commonly refers to strains with less psychogenic properties because of the minimal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In people, THC is sometimes used to alleviate nausea associated with chemotherapy, help with muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, to treat seizure disorders and much more.

Learn more about the medical use and possible toxicity of CBD oil in Dogs.

Unfortunately, because of the illegal nature of these drugs and the concern over societal stigmas, diagnosis and treatment are sometimes delayed. This brings up the point – what does your vet do if you bring a dog in with an illegal drug exposure? Learn the answer here.

How Does Marijuana Affect Dogs?

Dogs are usually exposed to marijuana by ingestion of the cigarettes, dried leaves, or baked products containing marijuana. There are also reports of second hand smoke causing intoxication. Sometimes, owners may intentionally give marijuana to their pets to “see what happens.”

With the legalization, there are many varieties of marijuana as well as many forms. Cannabis can be used by ingestion of various foods including candy, gummy candy, suckers, baked good, butters, as well as by smoking or vaporizing.

When inhaled or ingested, the THC enters the body and binds with neuroreceptors in the brain including norepinephrine, serotonin dopamine, and/or acetylcholine. This binding alters normal neurotransmitter function.

Signs of Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs

The most common side effects of marijuana intoxication in dogs are depression, lethargy, listlessness, loss of motor coordination or balance (stumbling), incontinence of urine, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, dilated pupils and glazed over eyes, vocalization such as crying or whining, agitation, drooling, vomiting, seizures and coma. Some dogs may experience hallucinations and have increased sensory stimulation to noises or fast movements.

The stereotypical dog that presents to a veterinary clinic for possible marijuana exposure is lethargic, listless, stumbling, glazed over eyes, and may dribble urine.

One danger with marijuana is that vomiting is common, and if the dog is profoundly lethargic and begins vomiting, aspiration of the vomitus into the lungs can lead to severe breathing problems and even death. This is relatively uncommon.

The signs of exposure can begin as quickly as 5 minutes to 12 hours after exposure. The signs can last from a half hour to several days depending on the amount and type ingested.

Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs: How Toxic is Marijuana?

THC is readily stored in the body’s fat tissue including the liver, brain and kidneys. The liver metabolizes it and much of it is excreted in the feces and urine.

The good news is that marijuana exposure or ingestion is rarely deadly and long-term complications are uncommon. Toxicity of marijuana is low. It takes about 1.5 grams of marijuana per pound of body weight to be fatal. Therefore, death from marijuana ingestion is not common.

The most severe problems relating to marijuana exposure or ingestion in dogs have been from high concentrations of medical grade THC.

Diagnosis of Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs

Diagnosis of marijuana ingestion or exposure in dogs is often based on the physical exam findings and history of exposure. There are urine tests to determine the presence of THC. Human tests can be used but are not dependable in dogs.

Treatment of Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs

There is no antidote for marijuana. This means that the treatment of marijuana exposure usually involves trying to eliminate the drug in their system, treat secondary signs, and provide support until the drug is eliminated from their systems.

Understanding CBD Oil for Cats

Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil Use and Toxicity in Cats

The recent legalization of marijuana for human medicinal treatments has increased interest in the properties of the Cannabis plant. The Cannabis plant contains approximately 483 known chemicals and over 80 cannabinoids. A cannabinoid is a class of chemicals isolated from Cannabis that can cause various effects on the body. The amount and concentration of each cannabinoid vary with the different plant and strain of plant. The two most studied and available cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most potent and psychogenic of the cannabinoids. It is used medically to treat nausea, muscle spasms, seizures, anxiety as well as other medical problems.

The focus of this article is on the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) in cats.

What is the Difference between Marijuana, Hemp, THC, and CBD?

The terms THC, CBD, etc. can be confusing and are often mistakenly used in the media. The term Marijuana most commonly refers to the tobacco product made from Cannabis leaves. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis plant. The difference between the THC and CBD is that THC causes psychotropic effects (affects mentation) while CBD is felt to have limited toxicity, is not psychotropic, and has other beneficial properties.

Hemp is a type of Cannabis plant that is known to have more CBD than THC. CBD is often extracted from the plant and sold as an “oil” although it also comes in other forms such as treats or as topical products. Cannabidiol is thought to decrease anxiety, decrease nausea and vomiting, decrease seizures, and have anti-inflammatory properties. It is increasingly being used in human, cats, and dogs.

It is important to understand that there are important and substantial differences in the quality and purity of CBD (more below).

Can Cats Get CBD Toxicity?

CBD is not approved by the FDA for use in cats. The true safety of CBD in cats has not been researched and we do not know how CBD may interact with other medications or treatments that your cat may be taking. Due to these factors, many veterinarians are reluctant to prescribe or recommend CBD for cats.

However, CBD is not psychotropic (does not affect mentation) and appears to have limited toxicity. As with any supplement or medication, there is a risk of adverse effects. In people, the most common side effects of CBD are a dry mouth, drop in blood pressure, and drowsiness, which are difficult to identify in cats.

Many CBD products are oil based with the potential to cause nausea and vomiting in some cats. The risk of toxicity will depend on the dose given to your cat, the quality of the product, presence of insecticides or pesticides, preservatives or additives present, and the potency of the product. Overdoses with impure products can lead to symptoms of THC toxicity. Cats may be lethargic, listless, stumble, have glazed over eyes, and be incontinent of urine.

If you are interested in giving your cat CBD oil and you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian.

Can CBD Oil For Cats Help?

Most research on CBD use in animals has been focused on dogs. In dogs, CBD it is used for pain relief, treatment of seizure disorders such as epilepsy, and for the treatment of anxiety-related problems. There are no formal research studies about the use of CBD in cats. Much of the use and information is extrapolated from human studies. With that being said, many veterinarians have found positive effects from using CBD in their feline patients.

The most common uses of CBD in cats include:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety and fear problems including noise phobia
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Glaucoma
  • Immune system stimulation
  • Inflammatory problems such as those associated with inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis
  • Nausea, especially nausea associated with side effects to drug therapy
  • Neurologic diseases such as cognitive dysfunction
  • Pain relief from arthritis, inflammation
  • Treatment of cancer as some CBD is thought to have anti-tumor properties
  • Treatment of seizures such as epilepsy

The AKC Canine Health Foundation with Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is currently conducting research to determine the usefulness of CBD in dogs with epilepsy.

Is CBD Legal?

CBD is legal in most states however new rulings have changed this in states such as Ohio. As a veterinarian in Ohio at the time of this writing, it is illegal for veterinarians to sell or prescribe CBD oil. However, it is available in some states over-the-counter without a prescription.
How Do You Pick a Good CBD Oil for Your Cat?