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Marijuana & Pet Toxicity

With the upcoming legalization of recreational marijuana, we will inevitably see an increase in the number of pets presenting with marijuana toxicity. While the idea of our pets “getting high” may seem funny to some, we assure you it is not.

Marijuana can have significant side-effects for our furry friends with the most common being sedation/lethargy, dilated pupils, dazed expression, difficulty walking and vomiting. The more severe symptoms of marijuana toxicity include either a low or high heart rate, trouble regulating body temperature, incontinence, tremors, seizures and potentially coma. These symptoms can begin anywhere from 5 minutes to 12 hours post contact and can last up to several days depending on the dose ingested.

Marijuana is sold in multiple forms which means there are various ways in which our pets can accidentally come in to contact with it. We all know that sometimes our pets like to get into things he shouldn’t and that can include your stash! This makes ingestion one of the top ways our pets develop marijuana toxicity. Make sure to keep all products (especially the edibles which often also include chocolate!) safely kept out of reach. Also, make sure to keep a close eye on your pet when out on walks as we have seen cases of pets ingesting the remnants of a joint left behind by others on sidewalks and in parks.

If you plan on smoking marijuana at home or your pet visits someone who does, please be aware that our pets can also be affected by second-hand smoke. Keep pets in a separate room with proper ventilation until the smoke has cleared. You should never use marijuana products around any animals.

If you suspect that your pet may have marijuana toxicity, it is essential to get him to the vet as soon as possible. The most critical factor in marijuana toxicity cases is, to be honest with your veterinary team. We are not here to judge you, we only want to help you and your pet and to be able to do this we need to have all of the information.

In cases of ingested marijuana, the veterinary team can induce vomiting as long as your pet is seen shortly after the ingestion and they may also administer activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the substance. Please be aware that this process can be messy! Hospitalization may also be recommended so that a Veterinarian and Registered Veterinary Technician can closely monitor your pet’s heart rate. He will also be placed on IV fluids to help flush any toxic substances out and kept confined to prevent any injuries as he will likely be experiencing some un-coordination. Most animals do well with this supportive therapy, but ingestion of large amounts of marijuana can be dangerous.

If you suspect your pet may have marijuana toxicity, please don’t hesitate to call us at 905-855- 2100 and bring him right away, we are here 24/7!

Written by Sarah, RVT

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