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If you love your furry friend and weed equally, you probably already know the two don’t mix. While it’s ok for our four-legged friends to enjoy the benefits of a few pet-friendly CBD drops and snacks, our four-legged family members absolutely should not partake in any THC or other psychoactive drugs.
That’s one reason you should always safely use cannabis around your dog, cat, hamster, bunny, ferret, or any other pet. Stash that flower, tuck away those edibles, ditch the dabber — all just to make sure they can’t get the good stuff.
But with more states now selling recreational cannabis, it’s more accessible than ever, especially to first-timers who might get a bit, uh, forgetful with their products. This could be why U.S. and Canadian veterinarians have reported sharp increases of marijuana poisoning in pets over the last few years. In 2018, the Animal Poison Control Center reported a staggering 765% increase in calls about pets ingesting weed in 2019, and a more recent survey found 283 cases reported in 2021.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your weed while hanging out with your best bud — you just need to be smart about it. Dr. Stephanie Liff, vet expert for digital insurance company Lemonade, which covers pets, has some tips.
What happens if a dog or cat accidentally eats “raw” marijuana? Is it a physical safety threat, or more of an unfortunate psychological experience? Does the amount matter?
It’s not a fatal toxin but can cause respiratory depression, which I sometimes advise requires hospitalization. More often, it causes lethargy, nodding off type behavior and sometimes nausea. If the nausea and the lethargy are present together, in certain breeds you have an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia but again, very rare. These side effects are all dose dependent, the more they ingest, the more abnormal they will be.
If your pet eats marijuana in any form, what’s the first step? Observe and wait, or rush immediately to the emergency vet?
If you can have the pet vomit prior to feeling the effects, this is best. If you miss the window for that, I typically think a call to the vet to discuss clinical signs you’re observing so we can gauge if this can ride it out at home, or if hospitalization is warranted. Typically this is not a life threatening emergency, and rarely do they need to go to the ER for this.
Signs of THC toxicity in pets to watch out for?
These pets are often nodding off, or ataxia (wobbly/dizzy). They can be drooling, urinating on themselves, or vomiting. They can have a decreased respiratory rate but that is not a typical sign.
If you do take your pet to the vet after marijuana exposure, what will the vet do? What should you expect?
Typically we administer cerenia to help with any nausea and sometimes IV or SQ fluids and then allow these pets to rest, usually in a dark and ideally quiet environment.
If you are advised to treat at home and keep your pet comfortable, what should you do?
Typically just let them sleep and monitor for if they are vomiting or urinating on themselves and keep them clean/dry and prevent them from accessing things they could fall into, stairs they could fall down, etc.
Is it safe for a pet to be in a room where people are smoking marijuana?
Yes, this is totally safe, but smoke can be irritating to pets, as it can be to people.