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Cannabis, Cats & Canines

February 10th, 2022 by Cherished Companions


Marijuana is toxic for pets—but what about CBD products?

Our Castle Rock veterinarians regularly get questions about marijuana poisoning and if cannabidiol (CBD) products are safe for pets. Given the changing status and wide availability of these products now, we think it’s important that pet parents know as much as possible about these substances.

Is marijuana toxic for pets? If so, why—and how much is considered poisonous?

Yes, marijuana is toxic for pets, but we don’t know how much must be inhaled or ingested before it becomes toxic. This is primarily due to the presence of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the chemical that causes the “high” when you smoke or ingest marijuana. Also, because it is such an unregulated industry with little oversight, products may contain contaminants that can be harmful to pets.

What are the symptoms of marijuana poisoning in pets and how is it treated?

Symptoms of marijuana poisoning usually start to appear within one to three hours and include:

  • gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and diarrhea
  • increased or decreased heart rate and temperature
  • neurological effects: depressed, disoriented, stumbling, muscle tremors, hyperexcitement or dazed and nonresponsive.

These symptoms typically last an average of 18-24 hours, but the range is anywhere from 30 minutes to three days. Treatment is usually supportive care until the substance runs its course. As alarming as these symptoms may be, most pets recover just fine.

Is there any difference if my pet ingests an edible (like baked goods or candy) or inhales marijuana smoke?

While there is a difference in THC content depending on the product, the real issue stems from how quickly the THC was absorbed. With food, it’s slower than if the THC was inhaled. If your pet ate something with THC in it, what will also be a concern is what kind of food it was, such as chocolate—which is also toxic to pets and means the vet must treat symptoms of poisoning from both.

Smoking has its own dangers because while second-hand marijuana smoke may not have an immediate effect beyond the THC, in the long term it can do a lot of damage to your pet’s health.

I’m seeing and hearing a lot about CBD to help pets with pain and other conditions. What’s the difference between marijuana and CBD?

Usually, when people are talking about marijuana or CBD, they are referring to products, not chemicals—but they come from the same plant. The difference is in how much THC they contain. Marijuana should be classified as 5-35% THC, while CBD is only .3% THC. When people say “marijuana,” they are referring to a marijuana product with THC, which in reality contains CBD as well.

Is CBD safe for pets? Does it really work?

While you may see and hear a lot of anecdotal evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of CBD products, our Castle Rock veterinarians think it’s important for you to know that:

  • CBD itself has none of the intoxicating properties of marijuana, but most CBD edibles and oils contain some THC, which is toxic to pets. When various CBD items were tested for THC, 67% of them were mislabeled.
  • As of right now, there’s been no long-term testing completed showing how CBD products can affect animals.
  • CBD products made for humans should never be used on your pets.

Another major concern is that as we mentioned earlier, these products are not regulated and because of that, contaminants and additives are a danger. Currently, there is testing being done on CBD products for pets and it is possible that in the future they will become a recommended supplement or treatment, but for now, we advise our Cherished Companion clients to avoid them.

A final word: To prevent marijuana poisoning in pets, keep all marijuana and CBD products locked away so your pets cannot access them!

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Cherished Companions Animal Clinic specializes in the care of cats and dogs. Our goal is to help your pet have as many happy, healthy years with you as possible—and to make your experience at our clinic comfortable and as stress-free as possible.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on issues surrounding pet marijuana poisoning and CBD use. If you live in or around the Castle Rock area and have specific questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 303-688-3757.

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