Pot Toxicity & Our Pets

Pot toxicity in cats and dogs is more common than you think and with the possibility of marijuana legalization on the horizon, it’s becoming more of a concern to pet owners and veterinary professionals. There are many ways to prevent marijuana toxicity in our cats and dogs if the substance is being used at home, such as ensuring it is out of reach of our pets. However, it is not always coming from in the home, sometimes it’s being ingested while out in the community. Maybe it’s coming from a pile of garbage sitting in the bushes behind the house? With the use of marijuana becoming more popular, we are seeing more incidents where dogs or cats are ingesting it. While most cases are fairly routine to treat, in some rare or more serious cases, it can be fatal. Here are some signs or symptoms that your pet may have ingested marijuana:

  • Dribbling urine (incontinence)
  • Acute lethargy
  • Difficulty or inability to walk
  • Pet may seem “stoned”
  • Hyperreactivity to stimuli (light, sound, movement)
  • Drooling
  • In some severe cases, you may see what looks like mini seizures

While very concerning, pot toxicity is treatable in most cases. It is diagnosed mostly based on signs and symptoms, although there is a urine test that can also be done. This urine test is designed for humans so it does not always provide accurate results, but symptoms are always a telltale sign. The treatment for pot toxicity varies from case to case but may include the following:

  • Inducing vomiting (only done if it is known that the dog ate marijuana and is caught early enough)
  • Administering activated charcoal which helps to stop the absorption of THC into the body.
  • IV fluids (to help flush the toxin out of the body)
  • IV Intralipids (help the animal excrete the drug without harming the body)

With a combination of any of the treatments listed above, many pets are feeling much better within 24-48 hours of treatment! Although pot toxicity is a very treatable poison, our biggest roadblock is the honesty of our clients. In some instances, people truly don’t know whether their dog or cat has gotten into marijuana or not. Often times, however, people are not honest about this because they are worried how we may react. Our only concern is the wellbeing of your pet! Therefore, our course of action is to help you and your pet. Not only is it going to help your pet to feel better much sooner, it will also save you a lot of money because if we know that marijuana is causing the problem, there is no need for any diagnostic testing in most cases. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to marijuana toxicity in your pets!

Written by Megan Woelders, RVT