With marijuana (pot) now being legal in Canada, the potential for pets to be exposed to this plant is much higher. For example, in the US, the Pet Poison Helpline has seen a 448% increase in marijuana cases in the last 6 years as more and more states legalize. (source: petpoisonhelpline.com) Let’s discuss the effects of ingestion and what we can do as pet parents to avoid exposure.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component providing humans with a “high” in Cannabis sativaand Cannabis indica, can be dangerous for your pets. Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors than humans and are more susceptible to the effects of THC. Pets can be exposed via second hand smoke, consuming marijuana edibles (eg: pot brownies, pot candy, pot teas, powders, cannabis infused oils and butters, etc) as well as the plant/harvested plant parts.

Signs of marijuana intoxication in pets (arising 5 minutes to 12 hours after exposure) may vary, but can include:

-Wobbling

-Excessive drooling

-Loss of bladder control/dribbling

-Uncoordinated

-Disoriented

-Vocal

-Dilated pupils

-Low or elevated heart rate and blood pressure

-Lethargy

-Drop in body temperature

-Respiratory depression

Luckily it is rarely fatal. Though in severe cases, seizures, coma and death have been known to occur. Typical treatment for intoxication includes inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal. And while there may be certain therapeutic benefits for THC under careful practitioner supervision for certain medical cases down the road, the dosage overall would be very small in that instance (not currently legal for vets to prescribe in Canada).

So please store all forms of marijuana safely out of reach from your pet and don’t expose them to second hand smoke.