Cannabis Safety and Your Pets

Cannabis Safety and Your Pets

With the legalization of marijuana soon to be on the docket in Canada and the remaining 25 states in the U.S. not far behind, families will be faced with learning more about cannabis and the necessary safety precautions they must put in place to protect their pets.  Yet cannabis has been in use in a variety of different modes for treatment of many ailments in both people and pets for many years. From hemp oils to cannabis-based creams and even medicinal marijuana, cannabis use has been providing relief for many people and their furry friends.

Whether you choose to make use of marijuana in your home is an intensely personal decision, but with legalization comes easier accessibility, meaning that it is more possible for your pets to come in contact with it.  Is cannabis safe for your pets? 

Cannabis Uses for Pet Ailments

There are many difference cannabis-based derivatives that have played a role in pet health and wellness over the previous decade.

Here are some of the most popular types of cannabis products available for pet use today:

  • CBD or hemp oils

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is commonly found in both cannabis and hemp. It is the medicinal portion of the marijuana plant.  CBD provides all of the health benefits of cannabis without any of the negative side effects associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  This ensures that while your dog or cat will receive relief from the ailments that plague them, they will not become high during the treatment process.

Cannabis oil is a fluid extracted from its namesake plant. The flower of the marijuana plant possesses glands which secrete oils with beneficial health-improving qualities. Among the medical conditions CBD and hemp oils are used to treat are milder issues such as stomach discomfort and anxiety to serious illnesses such as kidney disease, liver failure, seizures, and cancer.

Administered in correct dosages, CBD and hemp oils are safe for use in pets. They are particularly effective in providing pain relief as well as assisting with reducing anxiousness and nausea.

  • Hemp supplement formulations

Hemp supplement formulations combine the strength of CBD or hemp with other proven herbal medicines to treat different pet ailments. There are many different retailers offering these products on the market today. Most pet stores carry hemp supplements to assist with calming anxious dogs, improving a sluggish appetite, promoting healing, and reducing pain.

  • Hemp chews

Hemp chews are the food form of cannabis products for dogs and cats. They provide all of the health benefits of cannabis and are coupled with other powerhouse oils and herbs to increase their health-enhancing properties.

Hemp chews offer relief from many of the same conditions that supplements and oils address.  They are simply a more palatable option for picky dogs.

It is important to note that though many different cannabis and hemp products are used by pet owners that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) has not approved ANY marijuana use in ANY form for pets.  As with any supplement or holistic medication, it is imperative that you seek wise veterinary counsel before proceeding with a home treatment plan.

But what about marijuana?

Dogs and cats are prone to get into things, and if something smells good to them, chances are they are going to try to eat it. If your pet consumes marijuana this can be very dangerous for them.  The plant itself is toxic to both dogs and cats.

Animals suffering from marijuana poisoning can exhibit some or all of the following signs:

  • Unsteadiness
  • Lack of proper balance
  • Dilated pupils
  • General apathy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of energy or hyperactivity
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Respiratory distress
  • Coma and/or death

While pets can experience serious health reactions to the consumption of their owner’s recreational marijuana stash, it is even more concerning if your pet has consumed a baked good containing marijuana leaves.  Dogs, in particular, are highly sensitive to the theobromine present in chocolate, so brownies that have been prepared with cocoa and which also include marijuana in their ingredient list provide a double whammy of toxicity for your dog.

Marijuana must receive the same care and status as any other medication prescribed by your physician. This also includes any products that would contain elements of the marijuana plant.  Because of its potential to greatly harm and even kill your pet, you cannot be too careful.

What precautions should you put in place to keep your pets safe?

It is critical that each family put in place a strategy to keep their pets protected against the consumption of any substance that could be potentially harmful for them.  It is key to remember that some pet formulations containing cannabis or hemp can also be problematic if consumed in excess.  These remedies should also receive special consideration when it comes to proper storage and safety.

Here are some tips to assist you in pet-proofing your stash to provide the utmost in safety precautions:

  • Store all marijuana and cannabis products securely

It is always wise to bear in mind that our pets bear the capacity to work miracles when it comes to sourcing something they desperately want.  For this reason, your marijuana supply and any products containing marijuana, cannabis, or hemp, including baked goods, must be securely stored behind locked doors. This ounce of prevention can save you immense heartache and grief. 

  • Do not smoke marijuana near your pets

The dangers of second hand smoke exposure from tobacco are very well-known, and owners, in general, do avoid smoking cigarettes when their pets are present. Dogs and cats are particularly negatively affected by THC.  Pets who come in contact with this substance enter a state that is confusing, frightening, and extremely harmful for them. Some people have engaged in this reckless behavior because they find it entertaining. However, it is very unkind to willingly and knowingly subject your pet to something that is so dangerous and upsetting to them.

THC exposure can also lead to extreme respiratory distress and even death.  Immediate veterinary attention is required if you suspect your pet is suffering the ill effects of THC toxicity. 

  • Know the symptoms of marijuana toxicity

Pets will be pets, and they can thwart the most well-devised plan we can come up with. Because of this, it is important for you to know and to be able to detect the signs of marijuana poisoning in your pet.  If you suspect your pet may have ingested marijuana, do not delay in seeking veterinary intervention. Time is of the essence.  

  • Act swiftly if toxicity is suspected

As with all cases of accidental poisoning, immediate veterinary assistance is required.  Call your vet to let them know you are bringing your pet in and what you suspect may be the problem. This advance warning will allow them to be prepared for your arrival and will give necessary time to devise a potential plan for diagnosis and treatment.

  • Be honest with your veterinarian

If you find you and Fido or Fifi speeding on your way to your nearest veterinary clinic, it’s time to accept that the jig is up.  You need to be one hundred percent honest with your vet.  Your vet is not concerned about reporting illegal marijuana use to the proper authorities.  Their priority is helping your pet, and they cannot do that without full disclosure from you.  The time for propriety is over.  You need not fear judgment.  What is most important is helping your pet recover from marijuana toxicity.  Failure to completely disclose what your pet has eaten could potentially cause permanent damage and even death.

With the legalization of marijuana well on its way, it’s time for conscientious pet owners to devise home safety plans to keep their pets secure. Follow these simple tips to keep Fido and Fifi free from marijuana toxicity.  They will thank you for it!

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