Marijuana & Edibles Toxicity in Dogs/Cats

By: Bryanna Kelley

Cannabis toxicity is not a new issue to veterinarians and their practices. However, with legalization and decriminalization of marijuana and other THC/CBD containing products (i.e. gummy bears, pot-brownies, oils, etc.) an increase in accidental ingestion cases in dogs/cats is on the rise around the nation.

  • Marijuana/Cannabis: Cannabis has a wide range of strengths that vary depending on strain and plant. While in and of itself cannabis has not been reported to be fatal (in plant form only) in ingestion cases, it can still lead to severe neurological, cardiovascular and thermogenic issues. Most common symptoms of inhaled or ingested cannabis are lethargy, dilated pupils, difficulty walking, high or low heart rate, incontinence and tremors. Severe symptoms reported in ingestion cases are seizure, coma and inability to regular body temperature.
  • THC oils or Hash: Hash oils contain a much higher concentration of THC, sometimes up to 30%-50% the concentration of inhaled products. The higher concentration of oils make them much more dangerous to your pet. Symptoms of ingestion (similar to inhaled but amplified) can present within as little as 30 minutes and can last up to 72 hours. Veterinary care should be sought out immediately for treatment if ingestion occurs.
  • Foods containing Cannabis: While cannabis does have a “wide safety margin”, coupling it with foods (baked goods, candies, butters, etc.) can be the most dangerous form of cannabis ingestion to your pets. Pot brownies, butters and candies may contain ingredients such as dark chocolate, sugar (Xylitol) or different types of nuts. All of these ingredients range from slightly toxic to extremely if ingested by your pet. If ingestion occurs, symptoms of cannabis toxicity will be the least of your vet’s concerns. Different types of nuts can cause pancreatitis, neurological symptoms which possibly could lead to seizures. Chocolate in its most concentrated forms (bakers or dark chocolate) and sugar (Xylitol) can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, collapse, seizures or even heart failure! Couple this with cannabis ingestion and your pet’s prognosis becomes much more serious.

While in most cases, marijuana/THC ingestion isn’t fatal, serious side effects can occur. Providing accurate information on methods of exposure, ingestion vs. inhalant and how much, will help your veterinarian provided an effective treatment plan for your pet. If you know or believe your pet has ingested or been exposed to any kind of toxin contact Animal Poison Control help line and/or your veterinarian immediately. Helpful links bellow for more information.