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Is Cannabis cool for canines?

Now that marijuana is legal in Minnesota, and the smoke has cleared a bit, we need to look at how this affects the four-legged population.

Cases of Cannabis toxicity have been increasing in companion animals. Pet Poison Hotline has seen over a 400% increase over the past several years for marijuana toxicity in pets. Holy cannoli! That’s a lot of stoned pets…

So how are our four-legged friends getting their paws on this drug? When that weed is baked into a brownie or whipped up into a tasty butter… yummy! Pets, mostly dogs, are willing to try anything at least once. They figure if Snoop Dogg can do it, so can they. But Snoop is a double G kinda dog, not a canine at all.  Owners need to be diligent about keeping their stash under lock and key, or at least far out of reach for their curious furry friends. While most marijuana ingestion is not fatal, it does cause some scary side effects in pets.

If a pet who is exposed to marijuana is brought into the Emergency Room BEFORE the symptoms start (half an hour or so after ingesting the forbidden treat) the doctor may force the pet to vomit. Once symptoms present, it is really too late to go this route, but the doctor may give your pet activated charcoal – this helps absorb THC in the digestive tract. Because THC (the active ingredient in Cannabis) is stored in the body’s fat deposits, the effects of ingestion can last for days, especially for us portly pooches. Symptoms of marijuana ingestion include lack of coordination, lethargy, dilated pupils, slow or fast heart rate, salivation or drooling when not thinking about food (cue the munchies), dazed expression, sensitivity to loud noise, slow respiratory rate and urine dribbling. Your veterinarian will likely give fluids and other supportive care while in the clinic. The doctor may also treat any conditions that present from the way the marijuana was ingested, like chocolate toxicity if it was in brownie form. 

The most important thing with cannabis ingestion is to be honest and open with your veterinarian so that your pet can be treated in a timely fashion. Believe me, they are not the police and will not turn you in for pet endangerment if Fluffy found your stash. The bottom line when it comes to cannabis and your pets is to be diligent with keeping it out or reach of curious four-footed family members, and to keep any edibles in pet-proof containers. If you smoke it, keep your pets out of the room or make sure that the room is well-ventilated because they can get a secondhand high (which also causes symptoms). In short, Cannabis isn’t cool for canines.


Linda Lou, the “I never inhale” Blog Dog

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