THC and Your Pet:
Because animals process many compounds differently than humans do, many foods, medications, and drugs that may be safe for us ARE NOT safe for them. The psychoactive compound in marijuana that makes people high, THC (delta-9 tetrehydrocannabinol) is toxic to pets. THC and CBD (cannabidiol) are the most commonly known and studied compounds in marijuana, but CBD is thought to be non-toxic or have limited toxicity. However, it is important to note that products claiming to only contain CBD can still be contaminated with THC, so the risk is still present for possible interaction with pets. Marijuana infused edibles (made with oil or butter extract from THC) often contain higher levels of THC than plant material, and pose a greater risk to pets. Due to the toxicity of THC to pets, animals who have been accidentally or intentionally exposed are not just high or stoned. They need to be treated by a veterinarian.
Common Signs of THC Poisoning:
2. Stumbling (incoordination)
3. Dilated pupils
4. Increased sensitivity to motion, sound, or touch
6. Urinary incontinence
9. Rapid involuntary eye movements
10. Abnormally fast heart rate
Signs of High Dose of Toxicity of Marijuana:
1. Unable to Stand or Walk
4. Slow shallow respiration
5. Low blood pressure
These signs and symptoms can start within several minutes and can last for several days, depending on how much THC they have been exposed to.
What You need to do if you suspect THC Poisoning:
If you notice any of these sign or symptoms in your pet, they should be taken to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment immediately. Many of the common signs of THC poisoning are similar to the signs of antifreeze poisoning, which is extremely dangerous. Antifreeze poisoning is almost 100 percent fatal without aggressive treatment. Honesty is key when communicating with your veterinarian about exposure to THC. The welfare of your animal is the veterinarian’s only concern.
Testing and Supportive Care for THC poisoning:
Recommended tests to determine THC poisoning may include X-rays and general blood tests to establish a baseline and rule other possible conditions. Supportive care may include inducing vomiting with activated charcoal (only if toxic dose ingested and exposure very recent), providing IV fluids, warming or cooling therapy, and general nursing care. Medications are needed for animals experiencing more severe signs like agitation, tremors, seizures, or slowed heart rate.