As more and more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana use, North Carolina seems set to join them. Bills that would legalize medical marijuana and small amounts for personal use are making their way through the House and Senate, meaning that residents may soon have easier access to the substance. 

The legalization of marijuana has some pet owners wondering about its potential benefits for their pets – but the truth is that pot and pets is not a good mix.

Veterinarians across the country have seen an increase in cases of marijuana toxicity in pets. Understanding the dangers associated with pot and pets is critical when it comes to protecting your furry loved ones.

Pot and Pets – The Effects of Exposure

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, marijuana poses a moderate to severe risk to pets. The degree to which a pet is affected depends upon the quality of the marijuana as well as the amount consumed. Marijuana toxicity in pets most commonly occurs as a result of eating edible marijuana products, buds, plants, joints, and even the baggies marijuana is stored in.

Edibles, in particular are a concern. Not only is the dosage of the treat formulated for human weight (which far exceeds what a pet can handle), but are often made with chocolates, sweeteners (such as Xylitol), and other ingredients that can compound the toxic effects on our pets. 

Clinical signs of marijuana poisoning typically occurs within minutes to hours of exposure, and can last up to a few days. Symptoms include:

  • Glassy eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Stumbling
  • Listlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow or rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary incontinence (dribbling)
  • Extreme agitation (in about 25% of pets)
  • Tremors 
  • Seizures
  • Coma 

In many cases, pets suffering from the effects of marijuana consumption may look and behave like inebriated humans. Please keep in mind that they are not having fun – marijuana toxicity makes pets extremely agitated, anxious, and upset. 

Treatment for Pets

If your pet has been exposed to pot, give us a call or bring your pet in to see us immediately. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet your pet’s emergency needs.

There is no antidote for marijuana poisoning in pets, so treatment is largely supportive in nature. It may include induced vomiting, IV fluid therapy, hospitalization, and administration of activated charcoal.

It’s understandable for pet owners to be reluctant to bring their pet in for marijuana exposure. Remember that your pet’s well being is our only priority! Veterinarians are not obligated to report marijuana toxicity cases to the police. If your pet has gotten into your stash, please just tell us. The sooner we know what we are dealing with the fewer tests we’ll need to run and the faster we can treat your pet.

Stash Your Stash!

Keeping pot and pets apart is as easy as safeguarding marijuana products. Keep all pot and especially edible products stored where pets can’t reach them, and always use marijuana when pets are not in the room. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact the staff at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care with your questions regarding pot and pets.