Marijuana: With its legalization in various states in the United States, marijuana is becoming more common in families for medicinal purposes. In fact, the Pet Poison Helpline has seen a 448% increase in marijuana cases over the past 6 years. Here’s what you need to know about ingesting marijuana in pets.
Marijuana or Cannabis sativa/Cannabis indica is used for recreational and medicinal purposes. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most widely recognized, used, and studied cannabinoids, although there are more than 80 different cannabinoids found in marijuana plants. The main difference between the two is that THC causes psychotropic effects and has moderate toxicity, while CBD is non-psychotropic and considered non-toxic or of limited toxicity by many researchers. The exact amount of each cannabinoid varies greatly from strain to strain and plant to plant.
Cannabidiol is believed to have the following properties: anxiolytic, antipsychotic, antiemetic, antiepileptic, and anti-inflammatory. Medically, THC is used to relieve muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, weight loss in AIDS patients, seizure disorders, and Crohn’s disease. Tetrahydrocannabinol is also used recreationally for its mind-altering effects.
Pets can be poisoned by marijuana in several ways. You can ingest marijuana edibles like brownies or butter, the owner’s marijuana stash (in any formulation), or through secondhand smoke. Common symptoms of marijuana toxicity include sedation/lethargy, dilated pupils or glassy eyes, dizzy facial expressions, trouble walking, and vomiting. Other symptoms may include low or high heart rate, vocalizations such as moaning or crying, restlessness, temperature regulation problems that cause body temperature to rise or fall, and incontinence/dribbling when urinating, tremors, seizures, and possibly coma. The signs can last from 30 minutes to several days depending on the dose taken.
Although there is no real antidote for marijuana, veterinarians can take supportive measures to help the animal overcome clinical symptoms. Veterinarians can adjust the pet’s temperature to ensure it’s not too hot or too cold and administer fluids to help maintain hydration. They may administer anti-vomiting medications to stop fluid loss and closely monitor the animal’s heartbeat to make sure it is stable. Because the animal has difficulty walking and could be injured, clinic staff can help keep the animal comfortable and confined to prevent injury. In many cases, a veterinarian can administer activated charcoal. This is a liquid that the animal drinks or receives that can help retain the toxin from the charcoal in the stomach or intestines and prevent it from being absorbed into the body.
Pets generally do well with supportive care, but excessive marijuana ingestion can be dangerous. Common problems in diagnosing and treating marijuana cases in the veterinary clinic stem from incomplete medical histories, which may be due to drug stigma, owner vacations, pharmaceuticals, or concerns about legal ramifications. . It is important to obtain a complete medical history and assure owners that the clinic is only interested in providing their pet with proper medical care. A thorough and complete clinical history is essential so that only the necessary treatments are carried out and unnecessary treatments and costs are avoided.
With the legalization of marijuana in many different states, there has been an increase compared to last year as many additional cases of poisoning were reported. Obtaining an accurate medical history is important in order to treat pets properly and without unnecessary treatment. Some tips to avoid toxicity include storing marijuana edibles out of a pet’s reach in large locked cabinets or in a locked drawer when not in use. If marijuana is smoked, the animal should be kept in a separate area with good ventilation until the smoke clears. This will help prevent many marijuana poisonings.
If you have a medical emergency, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Control Hotline at 800-213-6680. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays, to help you with animal poisoning.