As marijuana becomes an accepted part of our culture, it is finding its way into more American homes. While its use has many reported benefits, it isn’t always a good thing when it comes to our animal friends. Pets and pot don’t really mix and it’s important for pet owners to be aware of marijuana toxicity in their furry friends.

Crash Course on Cannabis

The plant Cannabis sativa is commonly referred to as marijuana or pot. This plant contains a compound known as THC which has been shown to alter brain function. Commonly smoked or ingested by people who use it recreationally or for medicinal purposes, marijuana is one of those items in our homes that can be harmful to our pets.

When dogs or cats ingest marijuana in any form, or are exposed to secondhand smoke, toxicity can result. Symptoms often occur within three hours of exposure and may include:

  • Depression
  • Incoordination
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed respiratory rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Drooling
  • Dribbling urine
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Depending on the level of exposure, symptoms can be quite severe. While there is no specific antidote for marijuana toxicity in pets, supportive care is typically needed while the effects wear off.

Pets and Pot

Although the effects of marijuana on an animal can be quite scary, thankfully they are not typically fatal. Pets and marijuana cross paths fairly frequently, and The Pets Place Animal Hospital is well-equipped to treat patients if toxicity occurs.

Perhaps the most detrimental part of marijuana toxicity, from a veterinary standpoint, is that many pet owners are not forthcoming with the fact that a pet may have been exposed. When a pet’s owner does not disclose that marijuana toxicity is a possibility, it can delay treatment and cost more due to the running of additional tests to rule out other diagnoses.

Even if the marijuana that your pet was exposed to was legally obtained, please don’t forget that we are here first and foremost to help your pet. We are not affiliated with law enforcement and would rather have an honest history than get anyone in trouble. It is our job to keep your pets well.

It is also important to protect your pet from accidental exposures. If you have marijuana in your home, be sure to keep it secured and out of the reach of curious mouths. This not only includes edibles and reserves of the plant to smoke, but also the remains of the plant in the form of resin and discarded marijuana cigarettes.

Also remember that when you have guests in your home, they may have marijuana or other potentially toxic medications or substances with them. Secure their coats, bags, and purses in a closed closet or other area that your pet does not have access to.

Pets and marijuana are not a good mix, but thankfully we are here to help. Do your best to prevent potential exposures, but if your pet should ever encounter some cannabis, please don’t hesitate to ask for help.