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Friday February 26, 2021

By Erin Hiatt


Thanks to the 2020 election cycle, more Americans than ever have access to legal cannabis. Coincidentally, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic (if we can thank the pandemic for anything), a lot more Americans have pets due to a surge in pet adoption since March 2020. More pets at home and more humans at home is a predictable recipe for more pet/cannabis interaction, some of which won’t go well for your pet. 

Seasoned consumers know that there are many reasons to keep cannabis stored properly: it tastes better longer, maintains its freshness, and prolongs the life and efficacy of your stash in general. Aside from keeping your herb fresh, it also serves the very important purpose of keeping it out of reach of children and pets.

What to Do if Your Pet Eats Weed

So, if your pet eats your weed, should you take them immediately to the vet? The short answer is we’re not doctors or medical experts. You should absolutely take your pet to the vet if you have any concerns about your pet eating cannabis, even if it feels like an overreaction. If you do take your pet to the vet, be sure to be forthright about the situation, as that will help your vet make the right decision for your furry companion. 

Evolving legal markets have presented consumers with myriad ways to consume cannabis. Long gone are the days of your dog snarfing down a pot brownie your friend made with some stale weed that they pulled from their sock drawer. The choices and temptations for animals are so many: edibles, joints, dabs, concentrates, the list could go on and on. Some are things we wouldn’t even assume our pets would go for, such as tea or bath bombs. But as anyone with pets knows, nothing is off limits to a determined four-legged friend.

A dog sticking its face into a basket
Proper storage is key. As many pets owners know, it is not uncommon for pets to eat even the strangest of items. photo credit

Does the preparation matter? Dr. Ibrahim Shokry, BVSC, MVSC, PhD., and professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine told PETMD, “Marijuana leaves have less than 10 percent THC. Oils and butters used in making candies and food products contain the highest concentrations of THC - up to 90 percent - and are the most toxic.” 

But that’s not all. Sweet and savory edibles often contain other ingredients that are dangerous to pets, including chocolate, caffeine, nuts, butter and other dairy, xylitol (artificial sweetener), coconut and coconut oil. Remember, cannabis isn’t the only thing in edibles that might affect your pet. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, so make sure to do some research before giving your pet people food to make sure it’s safe.

Signs Your Pet Ate Cannabis

If your pet just raided your stash or gulped down that last infused cookie, here are some of the serious signs your dog or cat is having a negative reaction to cannabis, and you might want to call your vet immediately: 

Signs Your Dog May Have Eaten Weed:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Comatose state
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble with Urine retention
  • Incoordination 
  • Dribbling urine 
  • Low heart rate
  • Low or high body temperature

Signs Your Cat May Have Eaten Weed:

  • Extreme sleepiness or excitation
  • Hypersalivation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Incoordination
  • Vomiting 
  • Seizures
  • Depression, alternating with agitation or anxiety
  • Slow heart rate
  • Drooling 
  • Litter issues

The Wrap Up

Cats and dogs aren’t the only types of pets of course, but many of the same signs and symptoms are likely to be common among most small vertebrates. Reach out to your vet if your pet exhibits any of the above symptoms, even if the cannabis your pet raided contains a good amount of CBD, or another non-intoxicating compound like CBN or CBG, in addition to THC. Pets, of course, weigh less and metabolize differently than humans, so it’s important to keep a close eye on them for at least 30 minutes to better understand how they’re reacting.

If it appears that your pet will be fine and doesn’t warrant a trip to the vet, be a good buddy to them and keep them safe, warm, and soothed until they’re back to themselves.

Have you talked to your veterinarian about cannabis? Share in the comments!  

Photo Credit: Louis-Philippe Poitras (license)


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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