Pot and pets don't always mix. Talk to your veterinarian about pot toxicity concerns.As the landscape of marijuana legality continues to evolve, so does the risk of exposure to our pets. With the statewide legalization of recreational marijuana use happening earlier this year, it is not uncommon for us to see the family pet present in our clinic for an accidental exposure.

You may know your opinions about this newly legal drug in your body, but few pet owners know how it affects our animal friends. Redwood Veterinary Hospital is ready to equip you with information about pot and pets so that you can be an educated pet parent.

Pot Primer

The Cannabis sativa plant, also referred to as marijuana, has long been a popular recreational drug. With its recent statewide legalization here in California, it is seemingly more present than ever before.

Marijuana contains a chemical compound known as THC which alters brain function. The compound may be ingested or smoked. Some claim apparent medical benefits from its use, including pain relief and a reduction in anxiety. Others simply enjoy how it makes them feel.

Pets can be exposed to marijuana by the ingestion of the leaves, marijuana cigarette butts, or cannabis-containing edibles. They can also be affected by secondhand smoke. It is important for marijuana users to understand the risks to their pets. It is also important to recognize that even if you don’t partake, others may bring the drug into your home in their personal property.

Pot and Pets

There are certainly those out there who are utilizing marijuana and its associated compounds for their apparent benefits in pets. At this time veterinarians are in a bit of sticky situation when it comes to recommending or prescribing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived products for our patients.

Because federal marijuana laws have not caught up with our state mandates, and there are no state mandates specific to animals, veterinarians are still subject to DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) scrutiny for the use of marijuana in pets. Until the laws change to provide Veterinarians protections when considering Cannabis-derived products for our patients, we are unable to speak to their uses. California appears to be one of the first states where this may happen, though.

Most of our patients experiencing marijuana toxicity are exposed to marijuana accidentally. When pot and pets mix, the symptoms of overdose are generally apparent within a few hours. They often include:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Low heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Drooling
  • Loss of urinary control
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Symptoms are dose dependent and can be quite severe if a large exposure occurs.

Thankfully, marijuana exposure is not typically fatal. There is no specific antidote for toxicity, though, and pets who are affected must be treated with aggressive supportive care while the effects of the drug wear off.

Our hospital is well equipped to help our pet patients through this drug exposure, but it is certainly not a pleasant experience for the animal or their owners.

Some simple steps can be taken to prevent accidental Cannabis exposure in your pets.

Keep all marijuana, including edibles, out of the reach of pets and preferably behind a secured door. If you choose to smoke, do so in an area away from animals. Also remember that your houseguests may have marijuana on their person. Secure their coats, purses, and other belongings somewhere inaccessible to the animals in your home.

When pot and pets combine, the effects can be troublesome. A little common sense and responsibility when it comes to marijuana will help your pet avoid a hospital stay while she recovers from exposure, not to mention help you avoid an expensive vet bill.

Of course if you think your pet may have been exposed to marijuana or any other potentially harmful substance, call us right away. The sooner we get started on treating, often the better the outcome.