Protecting pets from pot poisoning
As cannabis legalization continues to spread across the country, consumers are getting serious about how to keep their weed secure—for both kids and pets.
Unfortunately, there has been an uptick in the number of animals visiting the vet due to cannabis consumption. Most of the time, Fido or Fluffy got into their human’s edibles and found themselves stoned.
The good news is that the vast majority of cases involving animals ingesting cannabis are resolved successfully. But that doesn’t mean that pet owners shouldn’t be extra cautious when it comes to protecting their furry friends from pot poisoning. THC toxicity is a thing, not to mention the fact that pets may be scared or uncomfortable under the influence.
So, how do you keep your beloved dog, cat, or iguana from getting into your stash? And what should you do if the unthinkable occurs? GreenState spoke with the pros to find out.
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Securing your stash
The most effective way to prevent curious creatures from getting into your cannabis is to keep it secure. Just like you would with children, it’s imperative to take extra precautions when it comes to flower, extracts, and edibles.
Infused foods are by far the most risky cannabis product for pets. Animals, especially dogs, have powerful senses of smell. If they catch a scent, they may do whatever it takes to get into your gummies or pot brownies. Animals don’t care that it has THC—it’s more about the food itself.
Veterinarian Dr. Trina Hazzah, the founder of Green Nile and co-founder and president of the Veterinary Cannabis Society, told GreenState that cannabis isn’t always the main concern with pets, particularly when it comes to edibles.
“Many of these products can be extremely potent in THC and potential toxins (such as chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, and xylitol),” Dr. Hazzah warned.
Pet owners should always keep their cannabis products in locked containers, preferably high up from the ground inside cupboards. This also goes for pet-specific CBD treats since you don’t want your beloved to overdo it.
“CBD has been shown to be tolerated extremely well (at even very high doses) in animals,” said Dr. Hazzah. “However, potential side effects of CBD dominant or CBD isolate products include sedation, lethargy, drooling, intoxication, or diarrhea.”
Pet owners should also shy away from consuming cannabis in the same room as their animal since second-hand smoke may have an effect.
Signs your pet may have ingested cannabis—and what to do about it
Pets can be sneaky, and even the most careful animal lovers may find their companion has raided their stash. The evidence may be obvious—a torn-up chocolate wrapper or an empty baggie—but some cases aren’t so clear.
Dr. Hazzah noted that there are numerous symptoms to be on the lookout for.
“In animals, the most common signs of THC overdose include incoordination, drooling, sedation, paranoia, anxiety, changes in heart rate, restlessness, and even urinary incontinence,” Dr. Hazzah explained.
If you think your animal may have gotten into your cannabis, contact a veterinarian or pet poison control immediately. Even people who live in states where cannabis is still illegal should reach out to ensure their pet is not at risk for more serious reactions—vets are more concerned with your animal’s well-being and are not obligated to report cannabis intoxication to authorities.
According to Dr. Hazzah, the majority of animals who experience THC intoxication recover completely with supportive care and monitoring at home. Still, it’s important to reach out to your vet in order to get the all-clear. If your pet’s condition is severe and they are unable to eat or drink, they may require a visit to the local veterinary emergency room.
Dr. Hazzah said that helping pets through their high is somewhat similar to assisting any loved one who may have consumed too much.
“It is generally recommended to monitor the pet carefully, provide water (if they can swallow on their own), and reduce any stimulation, including bright lights and loud noises,” she instructed. “Most pets that ingest low to moderate levels of THC products (that are free of contaminants or toxins) will recover within 6-8 hours in a dim, quiet environment.”
Safe cannabis storage is just another part of being a responsible consumer, and pet owners should be doubly aware of this notion. And while accidents do happen, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.