With the impeding possibility of legalization of marijuana, it is ever more important to be extra vigilant as to what our pets are getting into these days. Something as small as an ill placed joint remnant can sometimes have serious consequences for your pets.
Marijuana intoxication is no laughing matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly when it comes to your pet’s health and safety. There are many ways that your pet may become exposed to marijuana including second hand smoke, baked goods left laying around or even the raw content itself. Regardless of how your pet was exposed, it is important that you as the owner (or caregiver at the time) play a role in their safe and speedy recovery. Admitting as accurately as possible when and how much marijuana was consumed can greatly help the attending veterinarian create an effective treatment plan. A reported minimal lethal oral dose of d-THC in a dog is > 3 g although clinical signs of a “physiologic” effect occur at much lower doses.
Symptoms and signs your pet may have ingested marijuana are mainly neurological. Your pet may become wobbly and uncoordinated. A hallmark symptom is that they dribble urine, or urinate without realizing it. They can often become hyperactive, disoriented or very vocal. Some cases, their pupils become dilated giving them a “wild-eyed” look and they may also drool excessively. In severe cases, tremors, seizures and coma can be observed. Onset of signs ranged from 5 min to 96 h, with most signs occurring within 1 to 3 h after ingestion. The signs can last from 30 min to 96 h. Because THC is stored in the body’s fat deposits, the effects of marijuana ingestion can often last for days.
If discovered and treated right away (30 minutes or less) by your veterinarian, they will often induce vomiting with an emetic to avoid any further absorption. In life threatening cases, the stomach may need to be pumped and your pet may require hospitalization, IV fluid therapy, constant monitoring of cardiac and respiratory function as well as possible sedation in severe cases.