Marijuana, a substance often associated with relaxation and recreation in humans, presents a different and potentially dangerous scenario when it comes to pets. As marijuana legalization spreads, veterinarians are witnessing a surge in cases of marijuana toxicosis in pets, particularly dogs and cats. This condition is primarily caused by ingestion, though inhalation of smoke can also lead to clinical signs.
While stereotypes of marijuana users often paint a picture of lethargy and munching on snacks, the situation is far from benign for animals. In dogs, common symptoms of marijuana intoxication include dribbling urine, swaying or general unsteadiness, drooling, and decreased alertness. Cats, on the other hand, may exhibit signs resembling neurological disease, such as unusual reactions to stimuli.
It’s crucial for pet owners to seek immediate veterinary care if their pet exhibits strange behavior, regardless of whether any cannabis products are missing. Sharing smoke or edibles with pets, even in tiny amounts, is strongly discouraged. When leaving pets with others, ensuring the safe storage of cannabis is essential.
Marijuana toxicosis occurs when pets ingest the drug, whether through homemade or commercial edibles, medical cannabis preparations, or prescription medications. Inhalation of marijuana smoke, though less common, can also pose risks. The majority of these cases involve dogs ingesting marijuana-infused edibles, which often contain higher THC levels than plain marijuana, increasing the risk of poisoning.
Secondhand smoke can also affect pets, causing symptoms like depression, disorientation, wobbliness, incontinence, decreased heart rate, and temperature. These effects can last up to 72 hours. In addition to marijuana, the ingestion of cigarettes or other nicotine products is toxic to pets and requires immediate veterinary intervention.
Moreover, marijuana can have various effects on humans, such as cardiac and lung issues, addiction, drug interactions, and anxiety at high dosages. It’s particularly harmful to teenagers and can impair the operation of vehicles and heavy machinery.