Recently I’ve been noticing a trend of people posting pictures or videos of their pets after getting them “high”. It’s as if there is this association that if you like or enjoy a product, that your animal should enjoy it too. In this case, however, marijuana is actually very toxic to household pets although it isn’t to humans. This trend of getting your animals high has also led to a huge increase in incidents of marijuana poisoning seen in veterinary clinics, especially in dogs.
I see videos of people blowing smoke into their cat or dogs face, or posting pictures with the caption “my dog got into the pot brownies”, and as an animal owner myself, it is infuriating. The fact that some people would subject their animals to a practice they can not condone to, along with something that is actually toxic to them, it’s just aggravating. I understand that accidents happen, such as when a pet accidentally finds an edible, and with the growing popularity and legalization of marijuana, these accidents are becoming more common. However, as a pet owner, you have to take necessary precautions to limit the potential of these accidents happening, just as you would with a child and safety proofing the house.
So what happens to a pet on pot?
THC, the most commonly known cannabinoid in cannabis sativa, affects the nervous system in an animal, and is listed as a toxic chemical, according to the the Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals. Along with toxicity, it may also cause allergic reactions to pets.
Common reactions to weed ingestion are depression, ataxia, vomiting and hypothermia. You might notice that your pet will lost their appetite and become dehydrated. It can also affect their circulatory system by causing a change in the heartbeat (either increasing or decreasing). Other symptoms include agitation, vomiting, drooling, seizures, and in very severe intoxications you can have coma or death. Symptoms of the effects of marijuana in animals normally occurs within an hour or two of ingestion and can last up to 12 hours. For more increased doses, it can last for days as the THC (and other compounds found in marijuana) can be stored in your pets fat.
What should I do if my animal ingested marijuana?
If you suspect your pet has ingested marijuana or laced products, take them to the vet immediately. When you arrive at the vet, don’t wait for them to start testing your pet, instead be upfront of the reason for your visit. This will save you money on drug tests, and other tests the vet will do to determine the reason for poisoning especially if your pet is showing symptoms, and make it easier to just treat the pet. Most of the time poisoning and intoxication will be treated with activated charcoal administered orally. The charcoal will trap toxins as it goes through the digestive system helping to eliminate excess that could cause poisoning. Other times, if you take your pet to the vet immediately after ingestion, the vet may induce vomiting, however this is not effective after around half an hour after ingestion.
Like any other toxin, in small amounts (depending on the size of your animal) marijuana ingestion will most likely not have any adverse effects on your pet. However, it is still best to keep it away from your animal. And although marijuana is safe for human ingestion, we have to remember that different species have different nervous systems, so what can be a euphoric feeling in humans can be very disruptive to a dog or a cat. So long story short, keep your pets away from marijuana. It will be better for them in the long run.