When it comes to marijuana, it’s easy to find a wide variety of opinions. Some feel it should be legal, others see it as a dangerous gateway drug. Some use it to treat pain while others… well, not so much. But when it comes to pets, there is far less variety in opinion. Regardless of the amount, marijuana in any form is toxic to pets.
While second-hand smoke can cause issues in pets as well, bigger problems occur when pets get into their owner’s supply. The earthy smell of marijuana combined with the curious nature of pets is a dangerous combination. Coordination issues, depression, seizures, and vomiting can all occur in pets that consume marijuana, and in some cases the drug can even cause comas.
Also worth noting is the fact that the majority of toxicity cases we’ve seen occur in dogs. Dogs don’t have to have already been exposed to marijuana to get the munchies. We’ve found that around 10% of marijuana toxicity claims are paired with chocolate toxicity. On their own, substances such as chocolate, butter and oil can be harmful to pets and when combined with marijuana, the results are far worse than an upset stomach. Treatment costs for the claims we’ve seen range from $89 to $1,783, with pets requiring IV fluids, anti-nausea medication and often overnight observation.
It’s clear that attitudes surrounding marijuana have changed in recent years and it’s something we see reflected in our data. 92% of our marijuana toxicity claims have been filed since 2010. Whether the increase in these claims can be attributed to more widespread use of the substance or greater comfort in discussing the drug at the veterinarian, it is important to actively make sure your pet doesn’t become a patient. Keep your supply far out of reach of pets and make sure to keep an eye on any and every baked good in your home – “special” or not. If your pet does consume marijuana, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian immediately and be open with your veterinarian. Veterinarians have no legal obligation to report drug use to authorities and in fact, there is no legal code on the subject of consumption in animals. (However, it should be noted that in some states, veterinarian do have a legal obligation to report animal abuse and repeated incidences of marijuana toxicity could be considered a form of animal abuse.)
As the signs and symptoms can be similar across a variety of toxicities, including anti-freeze toxicity, it’s important for your veterinarian to be informed.
Regardless of your personal stance on the drug, it is important to know the risks involved with marijuana when it comes to your pet. Marijuana is legal for recreational purposes in Colorado and Washington, and available with a medical card in 16 more states. Be aware of the risks, recognize the symptoms and be dutiful in preventing your pet’s consumption of the drug.