With both medical and recreational use of Marijuana becoming legal in a growing number of States and it becoming legal in Canada recently, we wanted to provide you with some practical information. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and it is not legal for veterinarians to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.
Unfortunately, THC can be toxic to our pets, and there currently are no approved recommended uses. Exposure to marijuana can result in a very sick animal. The vast majority of pet exposures occur in dogs. Ingestion is the most common way for pets to be exposed, especially in dogs who are notorious for eating just about anything. Pets can also be exposed to second-hand smoke.
THC Is Toxic To Dogs & Cats
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound of marijuana. Marijuana exposure in pets causes neurologic toxicity, which is not the same as the “high” that people experience. The symptoms that develop in pets do not appear to be enjoyable for them.
An animal’s liver processes this compound differently than the human liver and signs of toxicity typically become apparent within minutes to a few hours. The size of the pet and the amount of marijuana that’s consumed will greatly affect the symptoms they experience.
Currently there are companies marketing marijuana products to treat disease in animals. While both marijuana and industrial hemp products are available, no studies, doses, or uses in veterinary medicine have been determined. The FDA has not approved the use of marijuana or hemp in any form for animals and the agency cannot ensure the safety of effectiveness of these products. For these reasons, the FDA and the Animal Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cautions pet owners against the use of such products. Many of these products are marked as CBD oils or chews. These products, despite contrary claims, are illegal for use in pets.
Beware some products sold online & in stores contain cannabinoids (marijuana derivatives) and claim to have no THC in them. The FDA has issued numerous warning letters to companies selling products containing cannabidiol. Many of these products, once tested, did not contain the levels of CBD they claimed.
Pet Safety & Symptoms of Exposure
- Store Your Stash Safely
Keep your pot away from your pets, store it out of sight and in a sealed container. Marijuana edibles are the most likely consumption method as they are very tempting treats to your dog. Dogs are at a higher risk from cannabis-infused foods since many are made with chocolate and xylitol which are both toxic to dogs. Cannabis butter is also dangerous as it can cause pancreatitis. If you grow plants at home, keep the plants away from pets. Cats love to eat the leaves of plants and may find the plants irresistible.
- Keep Your Pets Away From Second Hand Smoke
No matter how you consume marijuana, keep your pets away from it. Never intentionally blow smoke in their face. Pets are extremely sensitive to the effects of THC and it can be a terrifying and dangerous experience for them.
- Know The Signs & Symptoms of Exposure
If you suspect your pet has ingested or been exposed to marijuana in any form we recommend going to your nearest emergency clinic right away. Always be up front about what your pet has been exposed to. Veterinarians are not obligated to report marijuana exposure, so its extremely important to be honest with your vet. The sooner you tell the veterinarian what was ingested or inhaled, the sooner the proper treatment can begin.
- Panting (in dogs), anxiety, and extreme agitation
- Dilated pupils, glossy-eyes, and a “dazed and confused” appearance
- Extreme lethargy
- Wobbling, pacing and agitation
- Drooling and vomiting
- Diarrhea (especially if a pet has consumed high-fat edibles, cannabutter, or oils)
- Inability to control their bladders
- Abnormal heart rate and blood pressure
For more information visit:
- ABVMA Member Advisory Oct 2018
- CVMA – Veterinarians Caustion: Medical Marijuana Exposure in Pets Oct 3, 2018
- CVMA Letter to Regulation Secretariat re Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis
- ASPCA. (2018) Toxic Plants & Non Toxic Plants – Marijuana. https://aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/marajuana
- Cavanagh, K. & Kyles, J. (2017, September 7) Signs of Marijuana Exposure In Your Pets. https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/signs-of-marijuana-exposure-in-your-pets
- Brooks, W. (2016, June 22) Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs. https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/doc/?id=4951863&pid=19239