The Cannabis Conundrum: Do Pot and Pets Mix?

Pot and pets don't mix when it comes to pet safety

As more and more states pass legislation to decriminalize marijuana, the medicinal and recreational use of the drug has grown rapidly in popularity across the country. It may only be a matter of time before New Jersey follows suit, meaning that pot could be showing up more frequently in many homes before too long.

When it comes to humans, marijuana has many reported benefits, but what about pot and pets? Whether you personally use it or not, it’s important for all pet owners to be aware of the very real danger of marijuana toxicity in animals.

Cannabis 101

Marijuana comes from the plant Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica and contains compounds (called cannabinoids) that alter brain function. The two main cannabinoids of interest to people are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), both of which are present in hemp and marijuana products.

Pot and Pets

Pets tend to have much more intense reactions to THC than humans, and it doesn’t take much to result in a pet poisoning. Pets are most commonly exposed to pot through the ingestion of edible marijuana products, dried or fresh plant material, or inhalation of secondhand smoke.

Although any type of exposure to marijuana can result in toxicity, the severity will depend on a pet’s weight, age, health, and the type/amount that was consumed. The following are classic indications that a pet is suffering from marijuana poisoning:

  • Disorientation
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Dilated pupils
  • Low heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Hyperactivity and lethargy (alternating)
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Coma

In the vast majority of cases, pets don’t die from exposure to marijuana, but it should still be considered a medical emergency. Your veterinarian will provide your pet with supportive care as symptoms wear off.

Edible Dangers

Any form of pot and pets don’t mix, but edible marijuana products are of particular concern because they tend to contain a more concentrated form of THC. Besides the fact that many edible products contain chocolate or xylitol (both of which are highly toxic to dogs), baked goods may be made with pot butter, which can trigger a bout of pancreatitis in pets.

Let us Help

Protect your pet from accidental exposure to marijuana by making sure all products are stored securely out of reach, and always supervise your pet while in other people’s homes. If your pet has been exposed to marijuana, it’s important that you let us know right away. We aren’t affiliated with law enforcement, and our only concern is helping your pet get better as quickly as possible.

Please contact the staff at Mountainview Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns you might have regarding pot and pets. We’re always happy to help!