Silver added that because many veterinarians risk their licenses and criminal prosecution for prescribing cannabis to pets, they have to be very careful in how they talk about the plant. “As far as our First Amendment freedom of speech to speak directly about this,” he said, “if we’re not giving medical advice—if we’re giving educational information—it’s a much easier situation.”
“In my experience, I found that using hemp-based cannabinoids, which are very low in THC, can cover almost all the bases as far as applications,” he said. “That’s where I always start.”
1. It’s Illegal for Vets to Prescribe Cannabis to Pets
There are plenty of edibles for pets these days—including biscuits, soft-chews, and more—that provide easy ways to medicate pets. But a better choice might be a tincture.
Trying to take a human-size dose of cannabis and extrapolate dosage for animal use is an “invitation for disaster,” warned Richter, noting that overconsumption of THC can cause serious health risks in pets. Most issues arise when pets simply break into their owners’ own stash, indiscriminately consuming the cannabis, but careless dosage can also cause problems.
“Hemp-based cannabinoids, which are very low in THC, can cover almost all the bases.”
The vet will probably offer supportive care and give intravenous fluids to help dilute the toxins and decrease the rate of absorption, explains Dr. Hackett. Your vet may also run a blood test or other diagnostic tests to rule out other toxins or even underlying metabolic or neurologic diseases, says Dr. Fox.
Since THC is a depressant that can suppress the gag reflex, the dog can’t vomit and expel the vomit, leading to respiratory failure, says Dr. Hackett. If the lungs are physically damaged due to aspirating or inhaling vomit, it can take days to weeks for them to heal, and can also be fatal. This can occur secondary to just about any poisoning and is a complication of surgery in any species, including people. In severe cases, a dog may be put into an oxygen case to support respiration, says Dr. Hackett.
Since marijuana is still illegal in many places and others may judge you for having the drug, it’s understandable that many pet owners may feel ashamed or even afraid that there will be legal consequences. But both vets we spoke to assured us that this wasn’t the case.
Don’t Be Afraid To Take Your Dog to the Vet
As marijuana is starting to be legalized throughout the country, it means that veterinarians will probably see an increase in pets accidentally ingesting the drug. So what should pet owners do if their dog eats marijuana? Can dogs get high? Does marijuana have harmful effects on dogs?
Dr. Carly Fox, DVM, staff doctor at Animal Medical Center’s Emergency and Critical Care Service in New York City, explains that, “It’s rarely fatal.” But to reiterate, when a human ingests marijuana, they know what they signed up for. That is not the case with dogs, and they can end up becoming very sick.
Normally, your dog will recover within 12-24 hours. If your dog’s symptoms persist longer than that, it’s probably not marijuana, says Dr. Fox.
With edibles, you’ll also have to be careful of the other ingredients like chocolate or sugar, which can be harmful to dogs.
Are dogs going to pot?
This article’s not about marijuana, but this is important information. With the legalization of marijuana in many places, poison control centers are hearing more and more about pets getting into their owners’ marijuana stash.
Marijuana Vs Hemp
Marijuana and hemp both come from the plant Cannabis sativa (though marijuana also comes from another member of the Cannabis family, Cannabis indica).
Every dog is different. Rita recommends starting with a low dose and working up to the recommended level so that your dog gets the right dose for his individual needs.
As with any herbal medicine, for most ailments you may not see an immediate effect. You’ll need to be patient.