Cannabis is a plant that has been used by people for centuries for both medicinal and recreational purposes. In recent years, cannabis has become increasingly popular in many countries, with some even legalizing it.
Unfortunately, this can put our beloved four-legged companions at risk due to their heightened sensitivity to THC, the primary psychoactive component in cannabis.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis contains several psychoactive compounds, the most prominent being THC. Cannabis can come in various forms, such as dried plant material (flower buds), oils, edibles (cookies or brownies), topical creams, and tinctures.
How Can Pets Become Intoxicated By Cannabis?
Cats and dogs can become intoxicated by cannabis through direct ingestion or second-hand smoke. Pets are susceptible to THC since they have a more limited ability to metabolize the compound.
What Are the Signs of THC Intoxication in Cats and Dogs?
Symptoms of THC intoxication in cats and dogs include lethargy, disorientation, vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, and trembling. Some pets may have urine leakage; in severe cases, pets can have seizures, tremors, or become comatose. There may also be a decrease in body temperature.
Dogs’s brains have more cannabinoid receptors, which can amplify the effects of THC toxicity. Even small cannabis amounts can be toxic to both cats and dogs.
Cannabis affects your pet’s body by disrupting the function of the central nervous system, affecting their behavior, motor skills, and cognitive functions. THC is lipid-soluble, which means it is stored in the fatty tissue of the brain, kidneys, and liver before it exits the body. Most of the THC will be metabolized in the liver and excreted through feces, with smaller amounts leaving the body through the kidneys.
What Should You Do if Your Pet Has Ingested Cannabis?
If you think your pet has ingested or inhaled cannabis or is showing any signs of intoxication, it’s essential to take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Provide the veterinarian with as much information as possible on how they were exposed to cannabis, inhalation or ingestion, and what they inhaled or ingested for accurate treatment.
Responsible pet owners providing accurate information can make a huge difference in ensuring their pet gets the treatment they need.
Is THC Intoxication Fatal in Pets?
While generally non-fatal, THC intoxication can still be dangerous and cause serious long-term health issues in cats and dogs. You must seek medical assistance immediately if you suspect your pet has consumed cannabis.
While cannabis is generally safe for people, pets have a fairly high minimum lethal dose. Deaths from THC toxicity have occurred after the pet ingested foods with high concentrations of cannabis, like medical-grade THC products.
The best thing you can do for your pet is to keep all forms of cannabis out of their reach. Additionally, never smoke cannabis around your pet, as second-hand smoke can also be dangerous.
Have Questions? We Can Help!
The use of cannabis is becoming more commonplace, but it’s important to remember that pets are susceptible to the effects of THC and other psychoactive compounds. If your pet has ingested cannabis, it’s best to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible for advice. Following these steps can ensure our pets stay safe and healthy!
Contact the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro today to learn more.