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Marijuana intoxication in pets

Legalized marijuana is a hot topic in Florida these days, and as we draw closer to election day 2024, you will likely hear arguments pro and con. We’re not here to debate the topic- but to let you know how marijuana can affect your pet if marijuana is part of your self-care routine.

Alternative treatment for pets in South Tampa FLI feel that I must point out that I don’t care if you’re a recreational marijuana user. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to provide the best care and advice your pets. Whether you support the legalization of marijuana or you’re opposed to it, I’m not here to try to sway your opinion one way or the other. I am asking you to keep it away from your pets, as it is harmful. We’re talking about marijuana- not CBD products (See my CBD blog here). After speaking with my veterinary colleagues in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, they confirm that cases of marijuana intoxication have spiked sharply since their laws were passed. Although the consumption of marijuana by a dog or cat is rarely fatal, the damage that is done can be long-lasting- and expensive to treat. Before you ask- yes, we have seen a handful of intoxication cases at Tampa Vet. Not nearly as many as my colleagues in legalized states, but we have seen it increasingly since the legalization of medical use.

It is difficult to predict what effects marijuana will have on any given pet.  Like most drugs, it will vary based on the pet’s size, the method of ingestion- (yes, pets can get stoned from the second hand smoke)- and it can their overall health.  If the marijuana has been baked into something- such as cookies or brownies- the effects could be worse when chocolate is involved, or other things like artificial sweeteners (xylitol) or other things that your pets can’t tolerate like macadamia nuts.

Your veterinarian is not here to ruin your party. As I said earlier, we’re here to care for your pet.  What happens at your place stays at your place. We have no intention of calling the cops if you tell us that your pet got into your stash or ate your plate of ‘special’ brownies.  We need you to be up-front and honest with us if it happened, so we can save time and administer care to your pet.  This information can also help us avoid having to run specialized (and expensive) tests to look for other causes of your pet’s lethargy or other symptoms they present.

Some of the common signs of marijuana intoxication include:

  • Loss of bladder control/incontinence
  • Unstable when walking or loss of balance
  • Low heart rate
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Dilated Pupils

For pets who already have a pre-existing cardiac or pulmonary condition, marijuana can cause serious complications or death. If you think that your pet is suffering from marijuana intoxication, call your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinarian is not available, call your nearest emergency vet as immediate treatment is likely required.

So, if you do keep marijuana in the household, keep your stash in areas where it can’t be reached by your pets or anyone who shouldn’t get their paws on it.