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What you should know about: Marijuana Toxicity

With legalization spreading across Canada and the United States the incidence of marijuana toxicity in dogs and cats is on the rise. Sure, most people like to believe they are responsible with their stash but a stray bud or an unclaimed brownie left on the counter could spell disaster for a curious animal. If you suspect that your pet has come in contact with marijuana it is important to immediately contact your veterinarian, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 (fees apply).

Toxic exposure to marijuana can happen by ingesting raw marijuana or edible products that contain THC, skin exposure to oils that contain higher than 0.3% THC, or from smoke inhalation.

Common symptoms of marijuana toxicity can range from mild symptoms of lethargy, pupil dilation, difficulty walking, abnormal vocalization, or agitation; to much more severe symptoms such as vomiting, increased or decreased heart rate, issues regulating body temperature, incontinence, tremors, seizures, coma, or even death.

The onset of these signs can begin anywhere from 5 minutes to 12 hours after exposure and can last between 30 minutes and several days. Severity of the reaction and the duration depend on how much the animal was exposed to and what other substances it may have been mixed with.

It is important to contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline as soon as you are aware that your animal has ingested marijuana and that you are honest with them about the incident. Many of these symptoms can mimic signs of other severe neurologic conditions. You can imagine how many times patients are unnecessarily referred to our neurology practice because the owners, dog sitters, caretakers, etc. weren’t entirely upfront with their veterinarian.

While we don't promote using any CBD or THC products for your pets, if you use these products recreationally or medically please be responsible and look out for your animals.

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