What Every Pet Owner Should Know About Pot and Pets

A cat sniffing cannabisThe legal status of marijuana is changing across the United States, and its impact on pets has been noticed. According to the pet poison control hotline, there has been a significant increase in calls reporting marijuana exposure to pets since 2009; around the time marijuana legalization began.

As marijuana usage becomes legal in more and more states, and accepted in society, it’s worth looking into the health risks associated with pot and pets.

Pot and Pets Don’t Mix

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana, negatively affects a pet’s central nervous system and should be considered a pet toxin. Just like with humans, a pet’s age, weight, activity level, and amount of exposure will all affect the degree of marijuana poisoning.

Symptoms of marijuana exposure in pets include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Altered mental state
  • Dilated pupils
  • Low heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Hyperactivity
  • Vocalization
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Increased sensitivity to stimuli
  • Muscle twitching/tremors
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

Pets are generally exposed to marijuana through consumption; usually when a pet stumbles upon a stash of pot “edibles”, such as brownies or cookies, or ingests part of the marijuana plant itself. Pets can also be exposed to pot via secondhand smoke.

What About Medicinal Usage?

Much has been made of the benefits of medical marijuana for some people, and the concept has solid science to back it up. However, research to support the use of medical marijuana for pets does not exist at this time, and its use has been a topic of heavy debate. Medical marijuana still poses a risk to pets, and until guidelines for safe dosages and administration have been established, pot and pets should be kept separate at all times.

Protecting Your Pet

Protecting your pets from marijuana is as simple as keeping all plants and products out of your pet’s reach, and never purposely exposing a pet to secondhand smoke.

Your friends at Berkeley Veterinary Center would like to stress that we are not here to judge our clients or to get anyone in trouble. If you know or suspect that your dog or cat has consumed or otherwise been exposed to marijuana or a marijuana-based product, please call us or the Pet Poison Hotline immediately. Marijuana exposure should be considered a medical emergency, and your pet will need treatment right away.

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