What To Do When Your Pet Eats Your Cannabis Product
If you have companion animals, it is crucial for their well-being to keep your stash of cannabis products with THC out of their reach. The brains of dogs and cats contain more cannabinoid receptors than those of humans. As a result, the effects of ingesting cannabis is much more intense and potentially toxic for our fur babies. It only takes a small amount of cannabis to cause harm. In this article I will discuss how pets can gain access to your cannabis supply, the importance of securing your cannabis products after use and the steps to take once you realize they have consumed cannabis products.
How Pets Can Access Cannabis
- If you leave your cannabis products unattended, especially edibles, the likelihood is that a curious dog or cat may sample them.
- For those with indoor grows, dogs and cats may quite easily start nibbling on the leaves and flowers.
What To Do When Your Pets Ingests Cannabis
Determine The Type of Product
Ranking of products starting with the least dangerous to the most dangerous:
- Inhaled Second-Hand Smoke
- Raw Cannabis; leaves or flower, which has not been decarboxylated
- Vaped or Smoked Cannabis Flower in which some THC may still be present
- Infused Edibles without Chocolate which varies depending on its ingredients and potency
- Cannabis-Induced Products such as butter, oils, honey, syrup, etc, depending on the potency
- Concentrates of even the smallest amount, especially for smaller animals
- Chocolate-Infused Edibles Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and cats due to the presence of theobromine and a chemical related to caffeine known as methylxanthine. The chocolate alone can make them sick and then adding the cannabinoids results in the double whammy!
Determine The Potency
The potency of the cannabis product your pet ingested plays a big role in the gravity of the situation. 10 mg of THC vs 100 mg THC? A small piece of brownie vs an entire batch of brownies, 1 gram of concentrate vs 5 grams, a mouthful of cannabutter vs the entire tub? You get the picture. The smaller the animal, the more its impact.
Evaluating Your Pet’s Symptoms
Hopefully, you will be able to estimate the approximate amount of cannabis ingested by your pet.
- Nausea and Loss ofAppetite
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Bowel and Bladder Incontinence
Other Physiological Symptoms
- Allergy-related symptoms;excessive scratching, runny eyes and nose and irritability
- Changes in body temperature including alternating fever and chills
- Changes in breathing patterns
- Elevated heart rate
- General fatigue
- Constantbarking, howling, growling or whining
- Dilated pupils and other unusual eye movements
- Mental and neurological symptoms; seizures, tremors, hallucinations and disorientation
If the above symptoms are left untreated for a long period, it is possible that your pet may become comatose and die.
- Offer your pet more water to mitigate the dehydrating effects of diarrhea and vomiting. The likelihood is that your pet won’t have much of an appetite, so offer fluids with more nutrients such as beef or chicken broth.
- Activated charcoal, available at many drugstores, can soak up the toxins in the stomach that haven’t made their way into the bloodstream. Note: Do not attempt to use activated charcoal if you’ve already tried to induce vomiting.
- Induce vomiting by giving your pet hydrogen peroxide; use 1 tsp per every 10 lbs of body weight every 15 minutes no more than 3 times. Make sure to watch your pet closely for signs of distress. Administering hydrogen peroxide may result in excessive vomiting or bloody stools.
Seek Professional Help
Erring on the side of caution by taking your pet to the vet, regardless of what or how much cannabis it ingested, was recommended by many writers.
Make sure to give your vet as much information as possible:
- The kind of product; bring the packaging with you, if possible
- How long ago it was ingested
- If it contained chocolate or any other potentially toxic ingredient
Be honest! Clearly, if your pet ingested cannabis, you are already very contrite, concerned about its well-being and you want to make sure it recovers.
Your vet may give your pet intravenous fluids if it is obviously dehydrated. Another course of action is to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide or activated charcoal to prevent any more absorption of toxins. A final intervention of stabilizing your pet’s cardiovascular system may be necessary. That would involve normalizing your pet’s heart rate and breathing patterns.
Keep All Cannabis Products Away From Pets
Be sure to make a habit of securing all cannabis products in locked boxes, drawers or out of reach cabinets after every session. It is so easy to leave them out, giving your curious pet access to them. With their exceptional sense of smell, cannabis-induced candies, chips and chocolates are very tempting to them. Also, keep your pets away from your second-hand smoke by putting them in separate, well-ventilated spaces.
Can Cannabis Actually Kill Your Pet?
According to Russ Belville, long-time cannabis activist, here is what it would take to kill your pet with cannabis:
“Your dog would have to eat a pound or more of strong pot or edibles, and be a smaller-sized dog, and you’d have to ignore its symptoms, and the dog would have to pass out and choke on its vomit, or in the case of a chihuahua in New Zealand, experience hypothermia when the same blood vessel dilation that makes your eyes red makes the dog radiate away all its body heat.”
Of course, no pet owner wants to be responsible for the discomfort or death of their beloved dog or cat. Keeping them away from your cannabis products is the best way to protect them from harm.
leafly.com, Your Dog, Cat or Other Animal Ate High-THC Cannabis: What to Do, Lisa Rough, July 12, 2016
dogingtonpost.com, What To Do If Your Dog Accidentally Eats Marijuana, Jeffery Thompson, Oct, 7, 2020
vcahospitals.com, Cannabis Intoxication in Cats and Dogs, Rania Gollakner, DVM and Lynn Buzhardt, DVM