By Dr. Santos, DVM
What is marijuana toxicity and what should I look for when my pet gets into my “stash?”
With the legalization of marijuana in California, we are seeing more pets with marijuana toxicity.
Many times the pet owners are reluctant or even embarrassed to give correct information about what the pet “could have gotten into,” but clients are becoming more forthcoming than in the past.
The psychoactive compounds in marijuana are called cannabinoids; the two most well known are THC and CBD. These cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors (CBR) in the nervous and immune systems.
Clinical signs in dogs include central nervous system depression (e.g. lethargy, somnolence), ataxia, vomiting, tremors, pupil dilation, coldness, urinary leakage, slow or rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, disorientation, sensitive skin, behaviour disorders, hypersalivation, and vocalization.
In severe cases, coma may occur. The classic presentation of a marijuana-intoxicated dog is one that is depressed/somnolent, cold, disorientated, and dribbling urine.
External stimulation can result in brief hyperactiveness followed by a return to a depressed state. Supportive treatment is usually initiated with intravenous fluids and medication targeting the pet’s clinical signs.
If the dog is agitated, then sedatives are given. Oxygen and warmies are given if the patient is not breathing well or has a low body temperature.
Anti-seizure medication is given ASAP if seizures have occurred. Fluids help increase blood pressure and “flush” the body of all the marijuana toxins.
Full recovery can sometimes take several days, depending on the dose and type of product. Higher dosages, more potent strains of marijuana, and ingestion of marijuana butter have resulted in more severe, and sometimes fatal, intoxications in dogs.
Most, if not all, of the dogs we treat recover, but treatment is essential in getting rid of those toxins on your “high” dog.
Please, if your pet gets into your “stash” or you think your pet could have gotten into your “stash,” take your pet to your veterinarian ASAP.