Written by Christina Furlano
Ontario’s Cannabis Legalization and our Canines
As of October 17, 2018, Ontarians over 19 will be able to buy, use and grow marijuana. Dog owners who consume weed will need to be vigilant – and so does anyone who walks their dog. Whether intended for medical use or recreational use, if a dog ingests it, they will likely need to see a vet.
What happens when a dog consumes cannabis?
Though effects vary by dog size and amount of cannabis consumed, they include:
● Loss of coordination, slow response time, lethargy
● Hypersensitivity to sounds, touch
● Uncontrolled urination
● Vomiting or (abnormal) drooling
● Glassy eyes
Cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychoactive – it alters brain functions and is often unpleasant for dogs. CBD is not psychoactive, and so is commonly consumed for medical purposes. It can take minutes (secondhand smoke/vapor) or hours (consumption of edibles, oils, plant matter) to see effects. Effects should diminish in less than 24 hours.
If a dog consumes large amounts, effects become more dangerous. When legalized in Colorado, vets found that marijuana toxicosis in dogs increased with the increase of medical marijuana licenses. The same vets saw the death of two dogs who had consumed marijuana-laced butter.
What you can do
● Keep cannabis and paraphernalia out of reach, including plants if you grow them
● Don’t smoke around your dog (this includes vaporizing)
● When traveling with your dog, be aware of your surroundings
● Look out for discarded joints on walks, which may still contain cannabis
● Cannabis candies and other edibles should be stored away safely
If you think that your dog has ingested cannabis, take them to the vet. If the dog is small, make this trip as soon as possible. The vet may provide fluids and monitor them overnight.
What about special cases?
Some vets will prescribe cannabis to dogs they feel may benefit from its use. However, for the safety of the dogs and volunteers, EHS does not recommend canine cannabis use. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association notes that there just isn’t enough clinical research – something that will surely change with increasing legalization across the world.
Cats & Cannabis?
There is far less research on the effects that cannabis has on cats. However, they can still experience marijuana toxicity when it is consumed in large amounts. This means that cats can also experience the negative effects of marijuana, including a loss of coordination, vomiting and hypersensitivity. Though it’s less likely that a cat will be attracted to cannabis in many of its forms, it’s still a good idea to store these things away safely. If your cat ingests marijuana, contact your vet and pay close attention to their behaviour.