As marijuana has become legal in many states, more dogs are accidentally ingesting the drug or products made with it. But dogs and cannabis don’t have to be a toxic combination.
Although 30 states have legalized marijuana use for humans, none let vets prescribe marijuana for dogs.
Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a CSU veterinary neurologist, launched the study. She decided to research the issue after getting questions about CBD’s therapeutic benefits for pets from vets and dog owners. She also was alarmed to realize many pet owners were giving edibles or other medical marijuana products made to treat human ailments to their dogs.
While we wait for the research, the question remains: Are dogs and marijuana a dangerous combination?
What happens if your dog eats marijuana?
When dogs eat marijuana, it can cause ataxia, which is more commonly known as a drunken walk.
Dogs who eat marijuana can become hypersensitive to sounds. Their heart rates also can slow down. And their body temperatures can drop.
Dogs also can get high from second-hand marijuana smoke.
In Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, dogs are now getting a secondary high by eating feces from people who have used marijuana.
Dr. Scott Dolginow, who owns Valley Emergency Pet Care in Basalt, told the Aspen Times he sees three and ten dogs a week that come in with marijuana toxicity. He believes the dogs are eating pot-laced poop on trails and in campgrounds.
Recognizing marijuana intoxication in dogs
Warning signs of marijuana intoxication:
- Rapid breathing or excessive panting
- Irregular or unusually rapid heartbeat
- Dizziness or loss of balance
Most dogs recover within 15 to 24 hours of exposure. Even so, it’s a good idea to consult with your vet if you realize your dog has eaten marijuana or a product made with it.
Never hesitate to take your dog to the vet
If you’re unsure how much marijuana your dog consumed, take him to the vet.
If your dog ate a large amount, it might be necessary to remove the marijuana toxicity as soon as possible. If necessary, the vet can provide your dog with activated charcoal to prevent your dog’s body from fully absorbing the toxin.
To treat your beloved dog, you need to be honest, even if you live in a state where cannabis is illegal
If you know your dog ate marijuana and tell the vet, they can rule out unnecessary tests and begin treatment immediately.
Can medical marijuana help dogs?
While the efficacy of marijuana and CBD remain under study, products featuring CBD are now available to pet owners to treat everything from nerves and anxiety to cancer and arthritis.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has established guidelines for veterinarians to work with pet parents who request CBD or medical marijuana for their pets.
Although researchers are studying marijuana and CBD treatments for pets, many owners have seen benefits in treating their pets.
Because the effects remain unclear, consider marijuana, CBD oil, and products that contain them the same way you would any other medication. Keep them safely out of reach.