You are here

Pet Owners Beware: Marijuana Is Toxic!

Marijuana for medical purposes in humans has been permitted in Canada since 2013. Also, several US states have legalized marijuana for general usage. With this increased availability, veterinarians have noticed a significant rise in cases of marijuana toxicosis in pets. Like many foods and drugs, marijuana has a vastly different effect on animals compared with the effect on humans. While unlikely, ingestion of marijuana by pets can even result in death.

If you see your pet ingest marijuana, notify your veterinarian immediately.  If less than 30 – 60 minutes has passed, it may be possible to induce vomiting.  After symptoms have started, it is not recommended to induce vomiting.  Your veterinarian only wants what’s best for your pet and will likely not question you on how your pet accessed the drug.

If your pet displays any combination of the marijuana toxicosis symptoms listed below, contact your veterinarian immediately.  Signs typically begin 30 to 90 minutes after the marijuana has been eaten.   

  • lack of coordination and balance
  • listlessness
  • dilated pupils
  • disorientation
  • vomiting
  • excessive salivation
  • diarrhea
  • urinary incontinence
  • slow heart rate
  • change in body temperature
  • shaking
  • sensitivity to light and sound

Smaller dogs are more susceptible to marijuana toxicosis, and the symptoms are more pronounced when the product contains additional  ingredients toxic to dogs such as chocolate. While inhalation of the smoke by pets is possible, the most common occurrence is by eating the product. Newer forms of synthetic marijuana may be even more hazardous than their natural counterparts. If proper treatment is received promptly, symptoms can often be relieved within 24 hours, though trace amounts can remain in the pet’s system for up to five days.

Many of the symptoms of marijuana toxicosis are consistent with other conditions, so it’s vital that you tell your veterinarian if there’s a chance your pet has ingested marijuana. This will prevent the administration of costly and unnecessary tests to determine the symptoms’ cause. If your pet may have ingested any form of marijuana, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.