A Guide to Avoiding Pet Emergencies

What To Do If A Pet Ingests Medical Marijuana

Marijuana is becoming legalized and decriminalized in certain states particularly for medicinal use. While it’s still classified as illegal, new federal enforcement priorities essentially discourage federal prosecutors from pursuing non-violent marijuana users. In light of this easing up of restrictions, it’s not surprising that the Pet Poison Helpline is reporting a 200 percent increase in the incidence of marijuana poisoning seen in pets.

According to an article in the Denver Post, dogs and cats like marijuana and will eat the herb whenever they can get their paws on it. They’ll also eat marijuana-laced baked goods like pot brownies, which adds another pet toxin to the equation: dark chocolate. Even if you don’t use the stuff, your dog may come into contact with it when it’s out and about. One woman believes that her dog became ill after eating marijuana it found in a downtown park.

Signs of Marijuana Ingestion in Pets

A pet that’s consumed marijuana may appear depressed or drunk. They might cry out and exhibit difficulty walking. Their eyes might be bloodshot with dilated pupils. A toxic reaction to marijuana can cause their heart rate to slow down, and they may even fall into a coma.

What to Do

There’s no antidote you can give to help a pet who’s consumed marijuana. Just as in any poisoning case, it’s important to be up front with your vet and let them know what you believe your pet has ingested. They can pump the animal’s stomach or give it activated charcoal to absorb the toxins.

Inducing vomiting may work if you get help very soon after the pet ingests marijuana. However, that’s often unsuccessful because marijuana is a powerful anti-nausea medication. Depending on the severity of your pet’s symptoms, they may receive IV fluids and monitoring for low heart rate and seizures.

Good News

The good news is that it takes a very high level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to prove lethal to a dog or cat. In one study, out of 125 dogs presented to a veterinarian for marijuana toxicosis, only two died; it was unclear if that was due to the marijuana or the chocolate in the edibles.

Can Marijuana Be Used as Medicine for a Pet?

It’s currently illegal in every state for a veterinarian to prescribe marijuana for medicinal use in pets. According to the Denver Post article mentioned above, veterinarians believe that it’s only a matter of time before it’s made available for pets by prescription.

The amount of medicinal marijuana used for pets for symptoms such as anxiety and pain would be low. The aim of treatment is absolutely not to get a pet high; in fact, intentionally trying to get a pet high is considered to be a form of animal abuse, which is a crime.

For more information, visit http://www.akronvet.com or a similar website.

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