How Marijuana Can Affect Your Dog or Cat
According to the Pew Research Center, 18.9 million Americans over the age of 12 used marijuana over the course of March 2015, and 49% of the U.S. population has tried the drug. As marijuana use becomes increasingly common among Americans (and legal), the health risks for pets are often overlooked.
With numerous methods of consumption, pet parents should know the facts about marijuana and keep the drug (whether it is in oil, plant or edible form) out of paws’ reach.
Here are some of the most important questions we see with consumption of marijuana around a pet:
Will secondhand marijuana smoke harm my pet?
According to Dr. Eric Barchas, self-described as “the Internet’s go-to guy” for questions about pets and marijuana, the answer is no. “Unless the animal is in a room with extreme amounts of smoke, inhaling marijuana smoke is not likely to lead to intoxication,” Dr. Barchas says.
However, he cautions, pets have very sensitive respiratory systems. Smoke can irritate your pet’s lungs, potentially causing a cough or exacerbating existing conditions like asthma. Your best bet is to put your pet outside or remove them from your smoking room.
What happens if my pet consumes marijuana?
If you suspect your cat or dog has eaten marijuana or a marijuana-infused product, call the Pet Poison Helpline immediately and seek veterinary care. Marijuana poisoning can be life-threatening, depending on the amount or strength of marijuana ingested and if it has been cooked into brownies, cookies, or other edibles with toxic components. It is not safe for pets to ingest human-grade marijuana, period. If your pet needs veterinary assistance for marijuana poisoning, Healthy Paws will cover pets suffering from poisoning (exclusions may apply) as well as emergency vet visits.
Symptoms of pet marijuana poisoning include:
- Walking “drunk”
- Excessive vocalization
- Dilated pupils
- Low heart and respiratory rates
As in humans, the signs associated with marijuana ingestion vary widely depending on a number of factors. Age, breed, weight, activity level, and type of pet all affect the degree of marijuana poisoning in a pet. No matter how small an amount you suspect your pet consumed, seek immediate veterinary care.
Does medical marijuana work for pets?
Anecdotal evidence has suggested that pet-specific products appear to alleviate pain in some pets. However, until the full studies are in, the benefits of medical marijuana for pets have been heavily debated and disputed. As with many other holistic veterinary treatments, medical marijuana carries risks; pets can be poisoned by too large or strong a dose, as a “safe” level for pets has not been designated.
It is a rising industry, and while there are pet-safe edible treats made from hemp and CBD oil, we still recommend not giving any substance for medical conditions unless you’ve consulted your veterinarian.
How can I keep marijuana away from pets?
Like any products, plants or medications dangerous to pets, you should store them in a place out of paws’ reach – a tall shelf or a cabinet or drawer with a child lock. Using a glass jar can act as an additional safeguard; even if your pet discovers your stash, the glass container and twist-off lid are impenetrable.
Marijuana-infused edible products pose a special danger, as many contain additional substances poisonous to pets. Cookies, brownies and candies containing chocolate or the sweetener xylitol can lead to a double dose of toxicity. If you suspect your pet has consumed a marijuana-infused product, especially one containing chocolate, seek immediate veterinary care.