In November 2008, Michigan became the thirteenth state to legalize medical marijuana. As the use of marijuana becomes increasingly commonplace in Michigan, and across the rest of the country, it’s important to remember that the substance poses a specific risk to our dogs and cats.

According to the Poison Control Hotline, calls involving marijuana toxicity in pets have increased by 50 percent since 2008. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to pot and pets.

The Effects of Exposure

Marijuana poses a moderate to severe effect on pets. The level of toxicity depends upon the type of exposure, as well as the quantity that is consumed. Pets are most generally exposed to marijuana through inhalation of smoke, ingestion of plant material, and, most commonly, consumption of marijuana-based edibles (cookies, brownies, candy, butter, etc.).

An Edible Danger

Marijuana tends to affect pets much more strongly than people, and the risk of marijuana toxicity in pets increases even further when pot edibles are involved. The potent effect of marijuana, especially when combined with chocolate, Xylitol, nuts, and other human foods that are known to be toxic to pets, makes this a truly dangerous treat for our four-legged friends.

Symptoms of Marijuana Toxicity in Pets

Clinical signs of marijuana toxicity in pets can occur within minutes or hours of exposure, and can last anywhere from a few hours to days. Signs include:

  • Dilated pupils/glassy eyes
  • Stumbling/loss of coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Hypothermia
  • Slow or rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Excitement or agitation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

If you know or suspect that your pet has been exposed to marijuana, give us a call or bring them in immediately. Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is open 7 days a week to meet your pet’s needs. If your emergency occurs after hours, please contact us for a referral to a nearby veterinary emergency clinic.

There’s no antidote for marijuana toxicity in pets, so treatment is largely supportive and may include fluid therapy and medications to control vomiting, seizures, and other symptoms.

Stash the Stash

Protecting your pet against the harmful effects of marijuana is as simple as storing marijuana, edibles, plants, and paraphernalia where your pets can’t access them. Always supervise your pet while outside or in someone else’s home.

We know you love your pets and want the best for them! Don’t hesitate to reach out to the staff at ULVH with your questions about marijuana toxicity in pets.