• Ashley Slimak

What To Do If Your Pet Consumes Cannabis


As a pet owner, you know the list of items that are perfectly healthy for humans, but can be devastating for your cat or dog, like chocolate or grapes. As a medical marijuana patient, it’s important to know the effects cannabis can have on your furry friend if ingested.

First, know that the THC found in cannabis can indeed be harmful to your pets, although there is some confusion about this. Many pet owners use CBD infused treats and oils with early studies demonstrating that small amounts of CBD are not harmful to pets. THC, however, is a different story.

Read on to learn why THC is harmful, what to look out for if you think your pet has consumed cannabis, and steps you can take to keep your pet safe.

The science

Just like humans, animals have an endocannabinoid system. They have two receptors in their bodies, CB1 and CB2. CB1 is the receptor responsible for the effects experienced in the central nervous system and the CB2 receptor is responsible for the peripheral tissue affects.

In dogs, CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain, but also appear in the salivary glands and hair follicles. CB2 receptors are in the dog’s skin, immune system, peripheral nervous system and some organs, such as the liver and kidneys.

While humans can safely consume large quantities of THC, pets cannot. If ingested, pets experience uncomfortable side effects and in severe cases, death. Pets can be intoxicated by cannabis in various ways, from inhaling second-hand some to eating edibles.

What factors influence the intoxication levels?

The effects of THC in pet varies based on how much they consume, the level of concentration in the product, etc. Below are a few points to consider. If your pet consumes cannabis, try to answer the below questions to give your vet as many details as possible.

  • What product was consumed?

  • How much was consumed?

  • How much time has passed since your pet consumed the product?

  • How old is your pet?

  • How big is your pet?

  • Does your pet have any other health issues the vet should be aware of?

Warning signs of cannabis ingestion in pets

What are the signs of marijuana ingestion? Early signs include:

  • Poor balance/uncoordinated

  • Lethargy

  • Excessive drooling

  • Vomiting

  • Sensitivity to movement and sound

  • Unusual or increased vocalization

  • Disorientation

Severe signs include:

  • Changes in breathing

  • Muscle tremors

  • Urinary leakage

  • Seizures

  • Coma

What to do if your pet consumes cannabis

The most important thing to do if your pet consumes cannabis is to act fast. Don’t wait around to see if it progresses. Seek professional help and call your vet or a pet poison hotline. The professional may recommend you induce vomiting, especially if you caught it within 15 minutes. If you have a pet who is susceptible to getting into things, it would probably be smart to keep some items on hand to help induce vomiting, like hydrogen peroxide. If too much time has passed, the vet or professional may suggest bringing the animal in for IV fluids or multiple doses of activated charcoal. Let the vet determine the best plan of action.

Most importantly, take the right steps to ensure that it won’t happen again. Be mindful of where you store and keep your marijuana products and keep them far out of reach of your furry friends. Taking preventive measures is the only way to ensure accidents will not occur.

If you are a Virginia resident suffering from a medical condition you think may benefit cannabis, you're likely eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

Click here to learn more about what Virginia Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (888) 633-5808 and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process and schedule you for an evaluation appointment.

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