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Animal Tales: Is marijuana toxic to pets?

Marijuana may be legal for recreational and medicinal use by adults in Washington state, but that doesn’t mean you should share your stash with your companion animals.
Marijuana may be legal for recreational and medicinal use by adults in Washington state, but that doesn’t mean you should share your stash with your companion animals. TNS

Question: Is marijuana toxic to pets?

Answer: Yes and no.

Marijuana may be legal for recreational and medicinal use by adults in Washington state, but that doesn’t mean you should share your stash with your companion animals.

Marijuana can be toxic to pets if an animal ingests too much of the plant either raw, in edibles such as cookies or brownies or inhales too much smoke. Animals metabolize marijuana differently than people. Symptoms of marijuana poisoning in pets include listlessness, loss of motor coordination and balance, vomiting, hypothermia, drooling, and in severe cases, seizures, coma and even death.

And a reminder, chocolate can be toxic to animals, especially dogs, which makes pot brownies even more dangerous if consumed by your canine companion.

If your pet is showing signs of marijuana poisoning, get the animal to a veterinarian immediately for treatment. Be honest with the veterinarian about what you think the cause is, as it will help your veterinarian quickly diagnose and treat your companion animal.

Just like many people use marijuana as a way to manage chronic pain, ease side-effects from cancer treatments and treat a variety of conditions including seizures, some veterinarians and animal lovers give pot to their pets for the same reasons.

Dog treats containing hemp (which contains lower levels of THC, the compound in marijuana that gives people the “high” feeling), hemp oil and products that include cannabidiol (CBD), a component of hemp and marijuana plants, are becoming commonplace in many pet supply stores.

Many pet owners strongly believe in marijuana’s therapeutic and healing powers for animals, and the Internet is full of stories from people who have administered the plant to their pets with positive effects.

Veterinarians are not legally allowed to prescribe marijuana, but some, especially holistic veterinary practices, will discuss and recommend its use for their clients with certain conditions. The American Veterinary Medical Association does not sanction the use of marijuana treatment for pets but has published several articles addressing the possible benefits of its use.

Most veterinarians agree that much more discussion is needed and research necessary to determine the true benefits of marijuana, and safe and appropriate dosing levels and protocols for treatment on animals.

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