Marijuana Toxicity

On October 17th, 2018 marijuana will become legal in Ontario which means the chance of your pet being exposed to this plant will likely increase.  Marijuana is toxic to pets and we want to make sure that our clients are informed of the signs and symptoms to watch for as well as being aware that marijuana should be stored in a safe spot and away from curious noses.

Why is marijuana toxic to pets?

Pets are much more sensitive than humans to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana.  It is for this reason that overdoses are so common and ingestion in large amounts can be fatal.  This ingredient can cause a number of symptoms approximately 30 – 90 minutes after ingestion.

What are the symptoms of marijuana ingestion?

  • Incoordination
  • Sedation
  • Dilated pupils
  • drooling
  • Trembling
  • Head bobbing
  • Increase or decrease in heart rate
  • A startle response – where the pet seems like he/she is falling asleep or falling over but then catches itself
  • Decreased temperature
  • Occasional urinary incontinence
  • In severe cases, seizures

What do I do if my pet ingests marijuana?

Bring him or her to the Veterinarian immediately.  Depending on how long it has been since ingestion it may be recommended to induce vomiting and hospitalization may be necessary as well.

What are you going to do for my pet while it is hospitalized?

It depends on how much marijuana your pet ingested and also when it was ingested but the supportive care recommended can include:

  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Induction of vomiting
  • Administration of charcoal to prevent further absorption
  • Monitoring to prevent injury from incoordination

Is second hand smoke toxic to my pet?

No, your pet will have to ingest marijuana to develop a toxicity but second hand smoke of any kind can be irritating to pets so owners are encouraged to smoke outside.

Will I be reported if my pet has ingested marijuana or any other type of drug?

No!  We would like our clients to be honest with us about what they believe their pets may have had access to.  The more we know about what was consumed the faster we can put together a treatment plan.  We are not obligated to report narcotics to the police.

What about using CBD (cannabidiol) for pets, is that appropriate?

Right now, cannabis of any kind is not recommended for use in veterinary medicine and more research is necessary to determine the efficiency of cannabis products in pets.  Unknown side effects and effectiveness are always a concern when any type of medication that is unlicensed for veterinary use is used in pets and should be approached with caution.  Research is ongoing and once new studies become available, we will be sure to pass this information on to anyone who is interested in hearing more about using CBD in pets.

As always please do not hesitate to call or e-mail us if you have any questions about this information.  We would be more than happy to help!





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