In recognition of April 20th, which is considered National Weed Day, Seattle-based pet insurance provider Trupanion looked into its database to find out how marijuana—intended either for people or for pets—is impacting cats and dogs.
Here’s what it found:
- Cats aren’t particularly interested in marijuana (does this surprise anyone?)
- Dogs, on the other hand, have rolled in it, ingested it, and are much more likely to grab some special brownies off the countertop
- There are several cases of marijuana toxicity across the country and, not shockingly, the most marijuana claims per capita in two states that first legalized recreational marijuana; Washington and Colorado. Those states have three times more marijuana toxicity claims compared to the average in other U.S. states.
- Trupanion has paid over $78,000 in suspected marijuana toxicity claims
- In 2014 alone, Trupanion paid over $20,000 specifically toward confirmed marijuana toxicity cases
- The average marijuana toxicity claim costs about $525 on average to treat
Trupanion covers medicinal marijuana when recommended by a veterinarian—many of the pets whose owners have submitted claims for medical marijuana use were using the cannabis products alongside cancer treatments
Marijuana Pet Myths Busted
Trupanion’s on-staff veterinarian, Dr. Denise Petryk, debunks some common myths about marijuana and pets to shed some light on the subject below:
Do dogs get high? Can my dog get a secondhand high?
Dogs can show symptoms of marijuana toxicity within a few minutes of inhaling smoke or a couple hours after ingesting marijuana. They may experience impaired coordination, excessive urination and even loss of control of urination (incontinence), drooling, vomiting, lethargy, depression, dilated pupils, and light and sound sensitivity and in severe cases they may go into seizures or even a coma.
While some people may enjoy the effects of THC, the psychogenic component of marijuana, pets don’t understand it and its effects can be a confusing and stressful experience.
If pets can be prescribed medical marijuana, can I just give them some of my own stash?
Veterinarians do not recommend that you deliberately give your pet marijuana because the effects of THC on your pet can be harmful or unpredictable. Each strain of marijuana includes different compounds with varied psychogenic and medicinal effects. Medical marijuana intended for pet can be different than the marijuana intended for people and you should keep your stash away from your pet.
While some anecdotal cases have shown very positive effects of pet-intended medical marijuana in dogs and cats, the reality is, very few studies have proven a beneficial effect for pets and the risks have not been completely investigated. If you are interested in treating your pet with cannabis products, do so under the supervision of a trusted veterinarian in a controlled environment.
Can my dog die from eating too much marijuana?
If your pet ingests marijuana, you should take them to the veterinarian for monitoring. While pets typically recover from marijuana intoxication with no long-term effects, complications and an especially potent strain or a large amount of THC can be fatal.
If I know my dog ingested marijuana, should I tell my veterinarian? Will I get in trouble?
Don’t hesitate to tell your veterinarian if they have had access to marijuana—the signs of marijuana intoxication among pets can be indications of far more serious conditions, so being open can help your veterinarian eliminate more serious conditions and prevent testing needed to rule out other causes.