Washington State Sees Dramatic Rise in Marijuana Toxicity in Pets

Two and a half years ago, Washington State legalized marijuana and dramatically changed the criminal justice landscape. With that change, however, has come unforeseen consequences. As King5 recently reported, there has been a dramatic rise in marijuana toxicity in pets.

The station spoke with Doctor Melissa Yanik, a veterinarian who offered a number of tips and warnings for pet owners who may have found that their pet has gotten into their marijuana supply. Marijuana toxicity is a serious threat to pets and, in rare cases, can lead to coma and death.

Doctor Yanik said that a majority of cases that they see are dogs, but some cats have been known to ingest marijuana, as well. Marijuana edibles are also generally to be more toxic than the marijuana plant because of the increased THC content—THC being the active marijuana component that is toxic to animals.

Warning signs that your pet is suffering from marijuana toxicity include:

  • General listlessness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Low heart rate
  • Low body temperature
  • Seizures and coma

Getting Your Pet the Treatment It Needs

Marijuana's effects on a dog or cat can last 3-5 days after the initial ingestion. Doctor Yankik encouraged all pet owners to get their pets to a vet as soon as they realize there could be a problem. Doctors can induce vomiting or, in the later stages, can treat the animal’s agitation and administer fluids.

Doctor Yanik also stressed how critical it is for pet owners to be honest with their vets. Even after marijuana legalization, some stigma still remains, and many pet owners do not reveal that what their pet could have ingested is marijuana. Doctor Yanik warns against this and asserts that vets can only best treat pets when they have all of the most accurate information possible.