March 02, 2018
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs
Level of toxicity: Moderate to severe
Common signs to watch for:
Low heart rate
Low blood pressure
Due to increased availability for both medical and recreational marijuana, as well as the novel forms such as foods, pills, oils, and tinctures, marijuana is more accessible now than ever. It’s also stronger; new hybrids and cultivation techniques have resulted in plants with significantly more THC (δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound), as compared to those in decades past. At PPH, we’ve seen a 448% increase in marijuana cases over the past 6 years with the majority involving dogs or cats ingesting laced food products.
Cannabis sativa and cannabis indica are members of the Cannabaceae family. Slang terms include pot, weed, grass, and Mary Jane, just to name a few. Marijuana affects receptors in the brain which alter normal neurotransmitter function. Dogs and cats can be poisoned by marijuana from smoke exposure or from eating any type of marijuana/THC plant or laced baked foods (e.g., pot brownies, pot butter, etc.). Other sources of THC include highly concentrated oil products, like butane hash oil (BHO or “dabs”), filtered and purified oil (“shatter”), or wax made from whipped oil. These products are meant to be smoked via a bong (water pipe), or “vaped” like e-cigarettes in order to give users an instantaneous, powerful high. All of them contain 60-90% THC, and small ingestions pose great risk for pets.
In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, clinical signs can be seen within minutes to hours depending on how the pet was exposed (inhalation versus ingestion). Classic signs of poisoning include a dazed expression, glassy eyes, incoordination, slow response times, and dribbling urine. Vomiting and drooling are also common, despite marijuana’s anti-nausea effects. Other signs include changes in heart rate, vocalization, neurological stimulation, hyperactivity, or coma.
If your dog or cat ate marijuana, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment advice.
Poison type: Illicit Drugs
Alternate names: THC, Cannabis, pot, hashish, pot brownies, weed, grass, Mary Jane, reefers, hemp, devil weed, pot butter