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Marijuana is toxic to pets. More than 35 U.S. states allow for the medical use of cannabis products, with over 20 states legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. There have been several studies on the potential benefits of marijuana for humans, so you might wonder if it's safe for pets. Is marijuana poisonous to pets? Simply put, yes. Many dogs and cats are rushed to emergency vet clinics every year after they've ingested marijuana.
THC, a cannabinoid and the chemical responsible for psychoactive effects when consumed, is toxic to pets. So is marijuana poisonous to pets? Yes, because all marijuana plants contain THC. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the symptoms of marijuana poisoning in pets, what to do if your pet ingests marijuana, and more.
- Is Marijuana Toxic To Cats & Dogs?
- Symptoms Of Marijuana Poisoning In Pets
- What To Do If Your Pet Ingests Marijuana
- Final Notes
Is Marijuana Toxic To Cats & Dogs?
THC is derived from cannabis (marijuana) — one of many plants that are toxic to cats and dogs. Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, but the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is responsible for psychoactive effects — or the "high" — someone might feel.1
So is marijuana toxic to cats and dogs? The marijuana plant is poisonous to dogs and cats. Additionally, any marijuana-containing products, such as the flower itself, concentrates, and any other products derived from cannabis that contains THC, are poisonous to pets.
The amount of THC in marijuana products varies by plant and product. For example, marijuana-infused edibles are made with THC extract and contain higher levels of THC than the flower.2 Additionally, concentrates typically have more because they contain concentrated amounts of THC in a small container. Edibles can pose a great risk to pets because they smell like other food. A marijuana-infused brownie smells like a brownie, making it enticing to dogs. The risk is even greater if the edible contains ingredients like chocolate or xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s also toxic to pets.
If your dog consumes or inhales marijuana, it's considered a medical emergency because THC is poisonous to them. Therefore, you shouldn't wait to see if it has any effect; take them to the nearest emergency clinic as soon as possible for treatment.
What About CBD?
THC and CBD are two types of cannabinoids found in marijuana. Many pet products contain CBD and are marketed to improve your pet's health or behavior in some way. For example, you can find CBD calming chews that are marketed to help anxious dogs stay calm. Unfortunately, there's not enough evidence to determine the safety and efficacy of CBD for dogs. Companies can market their products however they want as long as it's legal, which means pet parents can be misinformed.
Ultimately, there aren't enough studies to determine whether CBD benefits or harms dogs. Before trying it with your dog, we suggest consulting your vet to ensure it's safe for them based on their overall health. A 2018 study aimed to determine how healthy dogs could tolerate high doses of CBD than those used clinically since there's no established canine dosage.3 Throughout the 6-week study, all dogs experienced gastrointestinal upset and developed diarrhea, while 20% had a single vomiting episode.3
Unlike other cannabis products, some brands create CBD just for dogs. You can find tinctures and treats at almost any pet store, so pet parents assume it's safe. However, that's not necessarily the case. CBD is not psychoactive and is thought to have limited toxicity, if any.2 However, adverse side effects are still possible. Unfortunately, we don't have enough evidence to tell us if CBD is truly safe for dogs. In addition, CBD may cause interactions with medications.
As stated, always talk to your vet before you purchase CBD from your local pet store or online. CBD is not an effective treatment for any animal health or behavioral concern. Instead, you should rely on the guidance of your vet and proven medications and treatment plans. For example, if your dog suffers from anxiety, you can find a wide array of pet CBD brands online claiming their products reduce fearfulness and stress. However, there's not enough evidence to suggest their claims are true. Instead, your vet can help you determine the right treatment methods for your dog's anxiety, which may include a combination of behavioral training and medication.
Symptoms Of Marijuana Poisoning In Pets
In dogs, clinical signs of marijuana poisoning begin within 30 to 90 minutes after exposure and can last up to 72 hours.4 The most common signs of pet marijuana poisoning include:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased sensitivity to touch, motion, and sound
- Inappropriate elimination2
Other potential symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, and coma.4 Death is extremely rare, but it's still possible.2 Therefore, you should take your pet to the vet immediately if you believe they've ingested or inhaled marijuana or products containing THC.
What To Do If Your Pet Ingests Marijuana
Is marijuana dangerous to pets? Marijuana is a poisonous plant to dogs, cats, and horses.2 Unfortunately, it's not only the plant you have to worry about. The ingestion of edibles causes 46% of cannabis-induced toxicosis in pets.5 If you believe your dog has ingested marijuana products or those containing THC, you should immediately take them to the nearest veterinary clinic. If you don't have an emergency clinic and it's after hours, you can contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (888) 426-4435 for marijuana ingestion to receive advice on how to care for your dog until you can find an emergency vet clinic.
In addition, you should always be honest with your vet. They'll need to know when the dog consumed the marijuana, how they got it, and how much they ate. If you lie, you could be putting your dog's life at risk because your information will help your vet determine the best course of treatment.
The treatment of marijuana poisoning in pets is primarily supportive.1 Your vet will check their vital signs and continually monitor them. They may also check the stomach contents and urine for cannabinoids.1 Unfortunately, THC can't always be detected in fluid, so urine testing isn't the most accurate method to determine if a pet has ingested marijuana.4
The faster you act, the earlier your pet can get treatment, improving their prognosis. If they've recently consumed marijuana, your vet may induce vomiting with medication and use activated charcoal to prevent the absorption of toxins into the body.4
Animals with a severe reaction or those who are treated much later will be monitored, given IV fluids, and potentially treated for hypothermia.4 If a dog is experiencing seizures, they'll receive anti-seizure medication to prevent or control them. Severe poisoning can result in hospitalization, in which your vet will continue to treat and monitor your pet until they're no longer experiencing symptoms.4
In most cases, pets can fully recover from THC poisoning in a few days. However, it depends on how much they consumed and how recently.
Marijuana toxicity in pets is completely preventable. Your dog or cat doesn't have to suffer through supportive treatment or feel unwell. Instead, you should prevent them from getting into your marijuana products, especially edibles that smell like food. Also, avoid leaving marijuana where your pet can get to it. Consider keeping it in a locked drawer or cabinet and keeping your dog in a separate area when marijuana is in use to prevent secondhand smoke.
How much marijuana is toxic to dogs and cats?
Unfortunately, because the amount of THC in marijuana is variable, it's impossible to determine how much marijuana flower, concentrates, or edibles are toxic to dogs and cats. The minimum lethal dose for dogs is more than 3g/kg.1 However, medical-grade THC products may contain larger concentrations of THC, and every product is different.
You can typically find out how much THC is in a product by reading the packaging, but if your dog consumes any amount of marijuana or cannabis, it's always best to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Death is rare, but it's not impossible, and the faster you take action, the better.
There are many plants that are safe for cats and dogs, but marijuana isn't one of them. If you grow your own or have any cannabis products around your home, you should keep them away from pets to prevent them from eating them.
Is it OK for pets to be around marijuana?
It's not safe for pets to be around marijuana. This means you shouldn't leave your edibles, concentrates, or any products containing THC where your dog or cat could get them. Additionally, your pets shouldn't be around marijuana smoke. A 1976 study found that dogs exposed to marijuana and tobacco smoke were at an increased risk of respiratory issues.6
We recommend keeping any marijuana products away from your pet at all times and treating it like you would medication. You wouldn't let your dog break into the medicine cabinet, so you shouldn't leave your dog unattended anytime there's marijuana around.
Hopefully, we've answered your question, "Is marijuana toxic to dogs and cats?" Marijuana can pose serious health risks to your pet, so it's always best to keep them away from it and store your THC products where your dog or cat can't get to them. If you notice signs of poisoning or suspect your pet has consumed marijuana, you can contact your vet or go to the nearest emergency clinic as soon as possible.
Regardless of how your dog or cat was able to ingest marijuana, it's always best to be honest with your vet to ensure they have enough information to effectively treat your pet. Knowing what's safe and unsafe for pets can be challenging, especially for new pet parents. Wondering if a certain toy, treat, or product is safe and effective? Talk to a Dutch vet today.
Fitzgerald, Kevin T, et al. "Marijuana Poisoning." Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23796481/.
"Pets on Pot-Just High or Highly Dangerous?" The College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, https://cvm.msu.edu/vetschool-tails/pets-on-pot-just-high-or-highly-dangerous.
A Report of Adverse Effects Associated with the Administration of ... https://www.ahvma.org/wp-content/uploads/AHVMA-2018-V52-CannabisAdverseEffects.pdf.
Khan, Safdar A. "Toxicities from Illicit and Abused Drugs - Toxicology." Merck Veterinary Manual, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/toxicities-from-human-drugs/toxicities-from-illicit-and-abused-drugs.
Amissah, Richard Quansah, et al. "Prevalence and Characteristics of Cannabis-Induced Toxicoses in Pets: Results from a Survey of Veterinarians in North America." PloS One, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20 Apr. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9020701/.
Roy, P E, et al. "Chronic Inhalation of Marijuana and Tobacco in Dogs: Pulmonary Pathology." Research Communications in Chemical Pathology and Pharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/940962/.