Downeast Dog News

Is Marijuana dangerous for Dogs?

By Dr. Judith Herman | Feb 01, 2017
Q. I use medical marijuana ,and my friend told me that it could make my dog sick if he got any. Is that true?

A. Now that marijuana is being legalized in Maine and many other states, just like any other intoxicants and medicines, you need to keep it out of reach of children and pets.

Since medical marijuana use became legal, the veterinary community is seeing a rise in marijuana poisoning in our companions.

Marijuana is a plant with many chemicals called cannabinoids which have medicinal properties to help both people and animals get relief from several chronic medical maladies.

Marijuana plants have over 100 chemicals called cannabinoids. These chemicals are also are produced in the body. In people, they play a role in regulating pleasure, memory,  thinking, concentration, body movement, awareness of time , appetite, pain, and the senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight). The leaves of the marijuana plant have a heavy concentration of a cannabinoid called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while the stem has a high concentration of cannabidiol (CBD). There is another plant called hemp that has many uses as a medicinal herb, cloth, in industry, and more. The hemp plant has high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and very low THC. Both plants are varieties of cannabis sativa plant species.

Hemp oil or extract (CBD)  has been used in veterinary medicine for many chronic symptoms such as inflammation, seizures, muscle spasms, skin conditions, appetite stimulation, anxiety, and neuromuscular disorders.

Marijuana medicals (TCH) are very helpful to people with chronic disease, but dogs show a higher toxicity to THC than people.

Because much of the marijuana is available in edibles, many pets are drawn to these sweet treats. This leads to toxicity with symptoms such as lethargy, dilated pups, drooling, being off balance, muscle twitching, vomiting, involuntary urination, and unconsciousness  to name a few. Animal emergency clinics can test for THC levels in your dog to rule out poisoning. Treatment is supportive care; depending on the amount ingested, your dog may need to be hospitalized.

Even though dogs tolerate hemp better, they can overdose in hemp oil with symptoms of disorientation, hyperactivity, vomiting, and excessive sedation.  If you are going to use these products, do it under the supervision of your veterinarian.

No matter if you use marijuana for medical reasons or recreationally, be smart and be careful where you leave it. If your dog is acting oddly and marijuana is available, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian right away.

Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH
Animal Wellness Center
Augusta, ME