Marijuana Toxicity in Pets

As more states legalize the use of marijuana, more and more pets will be exposed and poisoned.  The psychoactive chemical is known as THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Hashish is a form of marijuana with a higher concentration of THC than the regular variety. Here is what to look for in a pet, usually a dog, who has ingested marijuana:

1) Low Dose – lethargy, un-coordination, urinary incontinence, abnormal startle response (patient starts to lose balance then over-corrects), bradycardia (slow heart rate) and dilated pupils.

2) Medium Dose – extreme lethargy that borders upon sedation, vomiting, inability to walk.

3) High Dose – unconsciousness, seizures.

If your pet has been exposed to marijuana, please bring them in for veterinary care immediately.  If less than 30 minutes has passed, your veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting.  If clinical signs are already present, then administering activated charcoal will help your pet absorb less toxin. Since THC is absorbed into the fat, clinical signs can last for several days depending upon the dose and body condition of the animal.  Please be honest with your veterinarian as marijuana toxicity can look like poisoning from several different kinds of sedatives.

Brooks, Wendy. Marijuana Toxicity, The Pet Health Library, VIN, 2/11/03 and revised on 11/4/12.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.