With cannabis legalized in Michigan, what do pet owners need to know to ensure they keep their animals safe?
Trupanion, the leader in medical insurance for pets, looked at its database of more than 670,000 cats & dogs to find out how cannabis is impacting our furry friends. Here are 3 essential things pet owners need to know, along with some advice from Trupanion’s staff veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde.
1) THC is toxic for pets
With relaxed laws around cannabis in many states, humans may be less concerned with leaving it out. Unfortunately, this means pets are getting into their owners’ stashes and the results can be harmful.
- Trupanion sees over five-times the amount of claims that involve cannabis ingestion than that of alcohol.
- THC can cause balance problems, irregular heartbeat, incontinence, or worse.
- Even inhalation through second-hand smoke can be very dangerous to your pet.
2) Pot brownies and other edibles spell double trouble for your pet
Edibles may be a favorite way to get high for some humans, but make sure to keep those infused confections away from your pet.
- Trupanion has found that in the past, nearly 10% of marijuana toxicity claims are paired with chocolate toxicity.
- On their own, substances such as chocolate, butter and oil can be harmful to pets and, when combined with marijuana, the results are far worse and could potentially cause vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis.
“Edible forms of marijuana ‘double down’ on the toxicity, as the oil or plant is generally combined with something else that can be toxic to the pet,” noted Caroline Wilde, staff veterinarian at Trupanion. “For example, a pot brownie contains THC, which while toxic, is generally less potentially harmful than the chocolate it is combined with. Depending on the amount and type consumed, chocolate can cause heart rhythm disturbances and seizures, and can even be fatal at high enough doses.”
3) What should you do if you suspect your dog has ingested marijuana?
- Management of cannabis or THC ingestion will depend on how recently it was consumed, how much was consumed, and what it was combined with.
- If ingestion was recent, your veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting.
- Depending on the amount of time that has passed, your veterinarian can sometimes administer activated charcoal to reduce the amount absorbed in the GI tract.
- If your pet is sedate, your veterinarian can offer supportive care, with fluids and monitoring, and they can manage any of the related adverse effects.
“If you are concerned that your pet ingested marijuana, I recommend seeking immediate veterinary advice so your vet can determine what (if any) next steps should be taken, and so that the absorption of any toxic substance can be minimized,” said Dr. Caroline Wilde, staff veterinarian at Trupanion.
“I would also note what the form pet ate, as different parts of the plant have different levels of toxicity, and what it is mixed with can also affect (the) degree of toxicity. As an example, if it was an edible, then we also need to be concerned about chocolate in the case of a pot brownie, as well as GI issues from butter and oils that the THC may have been mixed with.”