Marijuana and Your Pets: Never a Good Mix

Is marijuana bad for dogs and cats? Yes. Absolutely.

As recreational and medicinal marijuana is becoming legal in more states, our pets are gaining easier access to it. Dried marijuana plants, desserts baked with pot, and concentrates such as hash oil and extracts can be attractive to your pets, but they can cause all sorts of problems if ingested.

Even worse, when edibles are combined with chocolate, which is also toxic to pets, you have a recipe for disaster.

Let’s look at the risks of marijuana ingestion in pets and what you can do keep your pets safe.

How Common Is Marijuana Poisoning in Dogs and Cats?

In the last few years, marijuana poisoning has become increasingly prevalent in pets. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, there has been a 330 percent increase in marijuana toxicity cases over the last five years.1

Unfortunately, there are risks to your cat or dog if anything with a high concentration of THC is eaten.

What Is THC and Where Is It Found?

THC—or tetrahydrocannabinol—is the primary ingredient in marijuana responsible for getting humans high. Common sources dangerous to your pets include dried marijuana plants, second hand smoke, and cannabis-infused sweets like brownies, cookies, chocolate bars, chocolate covered fruit, and gummy candies. Marijuana-based butter or oils also pose a risk to pets when used in cooking and baking.

If you have any sources of THC in your home, it is very important to keep your pets away to prevent ingestion. Small quantities in pets can have bigger consequences considering their size in comparison to humans — and large quantities of THC can be fatal in some circumstances.

What Could Happen if my Dog or Cat Eats Marijuana?

The effects of marijuana on your pet may vary depending on weight and size, but symptoms can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Loss of balance
  • Incontinence
  • Coma
  • Death (if large amounts are eaten)

If you think your pet has gotten into something it shouldn’t have and is exhibiting any of the above signs, a trip to your local veterinarian is recommended. Even if your pet is not exhibiting any symptoms, it is important to keep an eye out for any abnormal behavior.

Like any other potentially toxic household item, the best advice for the prevention of illness is to keep marijuana out of the reach of your dog and cat.

Need More Information?

For more information on keeping your dog and cat healthy, search through our Pet Health and Preventive Care libraries, check out our Ask a Vet page to find out whether it’s safe or not for your pet to ingest things like acorns and oranges, discuss nutritional needs and recommendations specific to your unique pet with your local veterinarian, or click through some of the related links below:

1. Pet Poison Helpline webinar. Hot topics in toxicology: Marijuana, xylitol & laundry pods. February 9, 2016.