Pot and Pets: A Recipe for Disaster
California has always led the effort to legalize marijuana use, and so far, these efforts have proven successful. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana, and has recently made history again with the passage of Proposition 64, which allows for the regulated sale and use of recreational marijuana.
As this trend continues to grow nationwide, veterinarians are seeing an increase in cases of marijuana toxicity in pets. In fact, a Colorado study in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care showed that the number of pets treated for marijuana poisoning quadrupled from 2005 to 2010.
Simply put, pot and pets are a dangerous combination, and it’s critically important for owners to be aware of how dangerous marijuana can be to their pets.
Pot and Pets
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in marijuana and is responsible for producing the desired effects. Because a pet’s body is so much smaller than a human’s, it doesn’t take much to result in a pet poisoning.
Pets are generally exposed to pot from inhalation (birds are extremely sensitive and can die from exposure to smoke), ingestion of dried or fresh plant material, or ingestion of edible marijuana products.
This last method of exposure is the most concerning, as many pets (particularly dogs) are extremely interested in people food and will overindulge if given the chance. Edible marijuana products also contain other substances that are toxic to pets, such as chocolate, nuts, or xylitol (a common sugar substitute).
Whether it’s through ingestion or inhalation of secondhand smoke, any amount of exposure to marijuana can be toxic to pets. Symptoms typically appear within a few hours and may include:
- Stumbling, loss of coordination
- Decreased heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Dribbling urine
- Slowed respiratory rate
Any type or amount of marijuana consumption should be considered a pet emergency. While there’s no specific antidote for pot exposure, supportive care is typically needed as the effects of the drug wear off.
A Safe Space
If you suspect your pet may have come into contact with marijuana, please let us know right away. At Huntington Veterinary Hospital, the health and safety of your pet is our top priority. We aren’t here to judge or get you into trouble. Being honest is your pet’s best chance at a full recovery.
Keeping pot and pets separate is the surest way to protect your furry family member. Store marijuana and marijuana products out of your pet’s reach, and always supervise your pet in other people’s homes.