🐶 THC poisoning is toxic in animals

🐶 Pet owners should seek immediate medical care

Marijuana and pets are a bad mix.

Now that the use of recreational marijuana is legal in New Jersey, users need to be aware of the potential harm they can do when discarding their joints. In turn, pet parents need to be aware of what their furry friends are picking up off the ground on their walks.

According to ABC News, a woman in New York City found out the hard way how dangerous THC poisoning can be after her 8-month-old toy poodle got stoned from eating a discarded joint.

Is THC toxic to pets?

Many people make the mistake that since the recreational use of marijuana is fairly safe in humans, the same holds true for animals. But the exact opposite is true, said Dr. Samantha Mammen, Medical Director at The Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown.

THC is incredibly toxic to pets, more toxic in an oil type of form than a plant type form, she said.

What can THC poisoning do to animals?

Even a small amount within about a half hour can cause ataxia, which is like a drunken state in pets, as well as head bobbing, lethargy, problems with breathing, and slow heart rate, Mammen added.

“One of the classic signs we’ve seen in veterinary medicine is dribbling urine or urine incontinence where they can’t control their bladder,” Mammen said.

Animals can often end up with very low blood pressure as a result. Immediate care should be sought.

Sometimes if it gets severe enough, animals can suffer from seizures due to THC poisoning and this can be life-threatening, she said.

Marijuana plant
Smithore, Getty Stock / ThinkStock

What are the treatments?

Unfortunately, most veterinarians have seen THC poisoning in animals.

There is no antidote or reversal to THC poisoning. But Mammen said vets can start an IV fluid regimen to get the drugs out of the animal’s system.

If a pet parent believes their pet ingested marijuana in some way, shape, or form, getting immediate treatment is key.

“If we’re able to see those pets quickly, probably within one to three hours, especially before clinical signs have started, we can do things like induce vomiting,” Mammen said.

Vets can give pets medicine that would force vomiting, potentially getting the THC out of the stomach before it can be systemically absorbed. That’s the best prognosis, she said.

Some animals may have to stay in the hospital if they do have severe toxicity. With low body temperature, doctors can support their heat. If they have low blood pressure, suffer seizures or stop breathing, they can give medicine and do mechanical ventilation until the THC can get out of their system.

Usually, the THC is out of a pet’s system within one to three days, Mammen added.

“When clients are honest with us and we’re able to do what needs to be done to intervene medically, most of the time the prognosis for recovery in about 24 hours or so is pretty good. But the problem comes in when our clients think we’re the police and they’re afraid to be honest with us about what happened with their pet,” Mammen said.

She made it clear that an animal’s veterinarian is not the police. He or she is not there to judge or incriminate. Their goal is to keep the pet safe and a lot of that comes with honesty from the pet parent.

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