Is Marijuana Safe For Pets?

Dog smoking a joint.

Marijuana has not been proven safe for pets. Some people feel that if cannabis is good for humans, it should also be good for pets. Gi Gi Griffin of Los Angeles regularly buys CBD products and mixes it into her ailing dog’s food. Griffin said that it’s helping, “She eats well, she as a lot of energy, and I think she’s doing well.” Do not medicate your pet yourself with CBD products made for humans. Rather, find a pet supply company that is making specially formulated CBD oil for pets.

Official Position on Pet Cannabis

Veterinarians are not permitted to prescribe cannabis and there are currently no pet pharmacies to fill a prescription anyway. The established agencies that serve and protect animals have offered their official positions on pet cannabis.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) – States on their webpage that cannabis is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses due to Delta-9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that releases neurotransmitters in the brain leading to various clinical manifestations.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)Representatives of PETA including Veterinarian Dr. Amanda Reiman in California state that alleviating the suffering of animals is their primary goal and support research on cannabis for pets.

International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) – A board member, Lisa Moses, V.M.D., Dipl. A.C.V.I.M., has said her organization hopes to see medical cannabis for pets but in a “well-developed product.”

Because cannabis is regulated as a Schedule I substance, advancing research is slow and could take years before predictable products with an acceptable risk/benefit ratio are developed. Veterinarians and animal organization leaders may be bound by the law, but many believe that human caregivers have a right to explore alternative therapies for their cherished companions.

My Pet Got in My Stash, Now What?

Veterinarians are reporting a four-fold increase of accidental cannabis ingestion by pets since 2005 and poison control centers say the number of calls have increased by 200 percent. Most cases are not from second hand smoke but from the pet ingesting flower or edibles. In a small study, researchers found 96 percent of the cases are dogs, three percent are cats, and one percent are listed as “other.”

Marijuana consumed by a Pet

The cannabis industry has been working very hard to design child-proof and pet-proof containers but accidents do happen. The symptoms of cannabis ingestion will vary depending on your pet. If you know your pet well, the signs of toxicity should be easy to spot. Symptoms may appear immediately and last for days because of how body fat stores THC.

Your pet may appear lethargic, sleepy, or depressed. He/she may drool or vomit. Walking may be difficult and seizures may occur. Death could occur in very rare cases. One study found lethargy, trouble walking, overreactions to visual and audible cues, and dilated pupils in almost all cases of animal cannabis poisoning and 30 percent of patients vomited.

If your pet finds your weed stash, get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible, especially if the weed was delivered in chocolate. You may be clueless that your pet ate cannabis and the vet will have to play detective and rule out other toxins like stimulants, rodenticides, antifreeze, or alcohol. You may know that your pet ate your stash but be embarrassed to tell the vet. Being completely honest is the only option for your pet’s best care.

The veterinarian will most likely conduct blood diagnostics to determine status and function of major organs and may administer an emetic to induce the animal to vomit and eject any cannabis in the stomach. After the vomiting is controlled, administration of charcoal will absorb toxins or hurry them faster out of the animal’s system. Your pet may be given intravenous fluids and watched closely for a day before coming home after they’re taking food and water normally.

Prevention is the Answer

The cannabis flower, edibles, concentrates, teas, drinks – all of it – are potentially toxic to your pets. Veterinarians and major organizations, while supporting CBD research, are unified in stating that cannabis ingestion causes illness yet rarely leads to death in pets. The best way to protect your pet, avoid vet bills, and give you peace of mind, is to be careful with your stash.

With all the lovely smells in cannabis products like chocolate edibles, your dog is naturally curious so you have to pet-proof your environment with the same diligence you would baby-proof your home to protect your human children. Our furfriends also deserve to be protected.

If You Do Want to Administer Cannabis

Despite official warnings, some pet owners like Ms. Griffith in Los Angeles, just can’t bear to see their pets suffering and take matters into their own hands. Her 6-year old Sheltie, named Joy, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Traditional medicine included chemotherapy and thousands of dollars. Instead, Ms. Griffith buys about $120 worth of CBD products a month for Joy and is satisfied with the result.

One of the products she buys is made especially for dogs, called Eden’s Cure. Vaughn Hirschkorn said that he made the product after he successfully treated his son’s cat with CBD oil made for humans and the cat regained its appetite in a half hour.

Another company that manufactures pet CBD products is VETCBD, which distributes to over 70 dispensaries in California. A one-month supply costs $40 and the company says that it has thousands of clients that use it to alleviate pet seizures, anxiety, pain, nausea, and arthritis.

Dr. Tim Shu of VETCBD says, “There’s some people that use it for horses, there’s some people that use it for small animals, like mice, guinea pigs, rabbits.”

The cannabis that you smoke or eat is not safe for pets. The CBD oil from cannabis or hemp, may be helpful. Specially formulated products for pets are available and where available, pet owners should not take matters into their own hands and administer CBD-rich products made for humans. In cases where formulated CBD products are not available, veterinarians and pet organizations understand and respect the caregiver/pet owner’s impulse to try whatever would help their furfriend.

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