Written by Dr. Testolin

With marijuana recently becoming legal for recreational use in our state, this potentially toxic drug will be much easier for our pets to access. Dogs and cats are both susceptible to marijuana toxicity. Marijuana toxicity can occur from ingestion of the plant itself, from ingestion of marijuana products (edibles, butter, oils), or from secondhand smoke inhalation.

Typical symptoms of marijuana ingestion in dogs include lethargy, depression, hyperexcitement, abnormal or unsteady gait, dribbling or leaking urine, disorientation, tremors, drooling, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, and low body temperature. If they ingested a large enough dose, severe signs can be seen and lead to low blood pressure, coma, or death if treatment is not obtained.

Cats may show similar signs to dogs including dilated pupils, drooling, wandering aimlessly or spontaneous jumping, lethargy/depression, head bobbing, swaying from side to side, wobbly walk, excessive meowing or hissing, and aggression. Cats can also be seen to drink and urinate more than usual, have difficulty swallowing, and alternate between periods of being very hungry and not wanting to eat at all.

Once symptoms begin, it can take several days for the effects to completely resolve. When a pet is suspected to have ingested a marijuana product, the best first step is to make a call our clinic. We will evaluate your pet and determine if treatment or hospitalization is needed. If we cannot be reached, an emergency clinic is the next option. The two closest emergency hospitals in our area are VCA Arboretum View Animal Hospital and Emergency Veterinary Services of Lisle. There are also pet poison hotlines that can be reached by telephone. The contact information for the previous clinics and hotlines can be found below.