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Marijuana in dogs - Is pot a treatment or toxin?

Feb 12, 2017


Legal or illegal? Recreational or medicinal? Edibles or smoking? Marijuana and its attendant culture and industry is consumed with binaries. In recent years, the side supporting recreational legality has made significant gains. Thus far, eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have voted to legalize recreational cannabis, while a further twenty have allowed it for medicinal purposes. In the years ahead, nine additional states are predicted to make the jump into legalized recreation.

In humans, ideally speaking, a toke or two will have no lasting effect. In fact, it is completely impossible to die from such ingestion. After a few hours of being happy, hungry and sleepy, youÂ’ll revert to your original state, as though nothing had occurred. As video search results indicate, people are not only content to limit ingestion to themselves, but also find it entertaining to record their pets when theÂ’ve found themselves under the influence. The medical community is split as to whether cannabis has the same medicinal properties in animals as it has on humans, or whether it presents detrimental effects. Unfortunately, very little concrete research has yet to materialize, but there are facets to recognize. 

Dogs react differently to marijuana intake than humans do. Responsible pet owners should learn to recognize the signs for when their under-the-influence pet crosses the line from entertaining to life threatening. Typically, marijuana effects in dogs include, but are not restricted to, lethargy, breathing problems, and loss of balance. When it becomes poison, however, these symptoms should expand to include drunk-style walking, respiratory depression and dilated pupils. In the rare severe cases, immense overdoses have resulted in seizures and temporary comas.    

Medical risks aside, they havenÂ’t stopped the establishment of a cottage industry for pet cannabis therapy. Without express certification from the FDA or ASPCA, Marijuana-laced toys, as well as oil for dogs is still used to treat the same conditions as in humans. While cancer and arthritis are predominant, appetite stimulation and other pain relief are common as well.  

Should you, as a pet owner, wish to experiment with cannabis for pets, then it is imperative that you consult a veterinary professional. As with humans, dosage should proportional to size and weight. For instance, a 12 kg Corgi can handle far less than a 40 kg German Shepherd. It is unlikely, to say the least, that your dog will be able to handle the same regimen employed by its owner. It is also important to recognize that dogs cannot always help themselves. If your pet is prone to rummaging, then take proactive steps to ensure that your cannabis refuse, as well as your supply, is properly dealt with.

With legalization legislation occurring around the United States, possession has been made much easier in recent years. With such volume, and without proper containment, dogs have been getting into their owners ‘stashesÂ’.  While remarkably few deaths have been recorded as a result of marijuana consumption, that hasnÂ’t stopped resultant pet hospitalizations to skyrocket. Since ColoradoÂ’s legalization, incidences have gone from “just a few times a year [to].Â…as many as five times a week.

With the higher rates of occurrence also come higher costs. In British Columbia, Canada, an average detox costs $290, and up to $1600 for sequela conditions. This is where having pet insurance transitions from being a peace-of-mind luxury to an essential. If you do not yet have pet insurance, then our partners at PetPlan in Canada, as well as Healthy Paws in the United States, would be a great place to start your search.