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Medical Marijuana Can Be Safe Treatment for Pets, Experts Say

Marijuana And Pets

While the medical marijuana debate normally focuses on patients of the human variety, pets (primarily dogs) often partake in the herb as a fairly safe way to escape pain or other medical conditions. According to a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’s Animal Poison Control Center, which included 250 cases of pet marijuana consumption, no deaths directly related to marijuana consumption were reported. One cat death occurred due to existing cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), and the only other death was a horse “with signs attributed to colic.” The study primarily focused on dogs.

While deaths are virtually unheard of, other serious long-term health complications involving marijuana use by pets are extremely rare according to San Francisco vet Eric Barchas, who says that marijuana intoxication normally lasts only a few hours with symptoms generally including disorientation, dehydration and anxiety. Intoxication normally occurs only when large amounts of marijuana are consumed – whether by eating raw plants, inhaling smoke or eating foods which contain marijuana. For example, brownies are generally off-limits for dogs since chocolate is known to be harmful to them. If marijuana intoxication does occur, treatment is typically no more complicated than nursing the pet and minimizing anxiety while preventing dehydration according to Barchas.

Animal Care and Control Director Rebecca Katz told SF Weekly that there have been cases of “dog owners blowing smoke in their pets’ faces,” and she’s never seen the city remove a marijuana-using pet from a household or fine its owners.

Does this mean that you should give your ailing or aching pet a puff of smoke? That depends. Consumption is often accidental, with a pet getting into the owner’s (or someone else’s) “stash” of raw leaves or food that is not properly contained or protected. That said, not all pets will react the same way, so if your dog seems to like the stuff and has little or no ill effects it’s probably safe in small amounts. The best and safest option may be the use of a balloon vaporizer to eliminate harmful smoke and toxins by capturing the active ingredients in a bag for clean and safe consumption and administration. The most well-known of this type is the Volcano Vaporizer, although a variety of others exist.

Given the increase in marijuana consumption by pets, many owners seem to find their pets benefit from it. Accidental or unintended exposure (and overdose) seem to be the biggest dangers which are easily avoided, and vaporization can reduce the risks of secondhand smoke. With a few precautions, medical marijuana could be just what your pet needs.

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24 Responses to “Medical Marijuana Can Be Safe Treatment for Pets, Experts Say”

  1. Kenneth Williams

    Funny…I read a story last week that said exactly the opposite…..who ya going to trust? I blow smoke at my cats all the time. They just get annoyed and scurry away.

  2. Kelsie Wimsett

    As humans, we can CHOOSE to partake in cannabis consumption. Our pets do NOT choose. To purposely intoxicate your pet is just plain cruel. They have no idea how or why they are feeling the way they they do. Not to mention the fact that it can bring out underlying health problems, like a few of the animals mentioned.
    THERE IS SIMPLY NO NEED TO GET YOUR PET HIGH! Grow up. Keep it to yourself. Dog in pain? Give them pet aspirin and call it good.

  3. Lealan Corbin

    Honestly I kinda feel the opposite. In fact, dogs actually have more cannabanoid receptors in their bodies than humans and are built to process it. I know my dog picks and chooses when he wants to be right next to us when smoking, he also gets up and walks away when he doesn't. He knows exactly how it affects him and makes that very clear lol. Now feeding it to them I don't really agree with because there is no choice there and the effects are way more intense for the animal. I guess anytime you force it on them, its not right… but truth be told, our taz loves his greens :)

  4. Miki Matkovcik

    Aspirin can be dangerous. Cannabis is one of the safest drugs (plant) on the planet. I agree it's not fair to a pet to get them high just for fun, but if they are in pain it would be cruel to deny them such useful medicine.

  5. Kelsie Wimsett

    Lealan Corbin ,
    I guess I shouldn't have said pets do not choose lol. It's very different when your dog CHOOSES to sit with you while smoking (I'm gonna go out on a limb and say this is an exception to the rule, though). When I smoke, my dog doesn't go near the smoke. If it gets close to him he sneezes and backs away.
    When I was ranting I was focusing on people who would force their dog to get high because they now think that it's a good idea or that it would be entertaining. For example I've seen people put their dog in a crate and fill it up with smoke. The poor dog didn't know what was happening and was very, very obviously distressed. Let's just say they can't own pets anymore.
    But yea, if you have a pet that has actually made the association between smoke and bodily effects and chooses to hang out at that particular time, it's different. I still wouldn't do it to my dog though, as it does increase heart rate and can still bring out underlying issues. Obviously that's not an issue for Taz, so that's good. :)

  6. Lealan Corbin

    I 100% agree with you.. I would never force it, that's just cruel. I do think my dogs pot intake has a lot to do with his overly calm and cuddly demeanor though :)

  7. Anonymous

    just as Carlos said I'm shocked that you can make $7492 in 1 month on the internet. have you seen this website.



  8. Vet Guru

    Medical marijuana for pets is supported by many veterinarians. Yes, it does work on pets because both animals and humans have the same cannabinoid receptors. It is a valid treatment for pain and for palliative care in pets. However, it is absolutely unacceptable to "get your pet high" for your own amusement (ie recreational use on pets). Here is a great scientific research paper outlining the documented use of medical marijuana on pets:

  9. Lorilei Gleeson

    Wow this article is bullshit… On the ASPCA's site that you claim there were no deaths, they reported 2 deaths.
    Want me to link it, or will you keep feeding us absolute BULLSHIT.

  10. Lorilei Gleeson

    That's more likely. It's so funny too because there was a medical study done by the ASPCA saying the exact OPPOSITE to what this article says… yet they reference that exact document.

  11. Anonymous

    when me and my buddy are smoking, his doberman will sit in front of whoever is taking the current hit, rest his chin on their knee, and when the smoke comes out he will intensely inhale. then once the piece is passed to the next person, he immediately moves to them for the next hit. i've therefore concluded that he enjoys cannabis greatly. also, i believe certain breeds do actually enjoy it while others do not. boxers for example will try to eat the smoke out of the air much like water squirted at them, while other more intelligent breeds assume you are deliberately trying to harm them. also, an individual dog might enjoy the smell/taste/effects of cannabis while another of the exact same breed might be turned away by the smell/taste/effects. i say if you enjoy cannabis and partake regularly, then have the dog sit with you while your smoking and study all reactions/responses before you either force it upon them or take it away from them. i have a 10 week old puppy now and wouldn't even think about letting him try cannabis this early but i do let him smell the flowers, which he loves and tries to eat. i'll wait until he is at least 1 year to try it out. and if he resists, that's the end of it. if he enjoys, then i'll let it be his choice. also, since the active compound in cannabis which has most health benefits is cbd (which actually combats the euphoric effects of thc), i want to give him steady doses later in life to see if it will prevent/stop the grow of tumorous cancer cells, promote improved lung function, etc. just like it does in human users. i would absolutely not be surprised if he lives longer and without cancer. but this is all just my perception on the subject so please don't try it on your pets if you are uncomfortable with it and please don't force your pets to partake in cannabis! and do not give your pets edibles even if there is no chocolate..digesting cannabis in such way actually releases a second euphoric compound unlike smoking it, which is why humans at least, will experience a "body high" along with the normal "head high" and the effects last upwards of 5 hours instead of 2 1/2 from please don't torture your pet with edibles, i've seen it multiple times and it changes the dog's perception about cannabis. i'm sure there are many humans who have been through the same experience, i know i wow i wrote a lot but i truly believe cannabis is quite literally a "cure-all" substance that shouldn't be confined to human-only use. 420 legalize everywhere!!!:)

  12. Canna Bis Chris

    Yes medical marijuana can be safe for use on our pets. However, it must be used in the proper ways. Giving a pet marijuana SMOKE is not good, especially for dogs since their nose is way too sensitive for smoke – it overpowers their senses. Topical applications can be used for skin conditions on dogs in some cases. Again, proper dosage is important especially if your dog can reach the preparation and lick it off – they will get high from eating it depending on how it is prepared. There are many many variables. Properly made medical marijuana concoctions can be safe for pets. Treats and medical marijuana intended for HUMAN consumption should never be fed to pets because a) they would be too strong, and b) they typically have ingredients dogs and cats can not eat. Education is key! Educate yourself today!

  13. Canna Bis Chris

    better education and safe usage is the better option. Even aspirin is lethal at a certain (not so high) dose. Cannabis can be safe if used properly on animals. Blowing smoke in your pets face is not proper usage – you are correct, it is not nice.

  14. Golden Organics

    i have many clients that use Golden's Organic Healing Oil on their pets . Topical for bad hips and surgery sites, and oral for immune boost and calm the nerves. Safe for puppies too :)

  15. Kfm Dallas

    My cat has terminal kidney disease. She has to pee about every 2 hours and howls in pain every time she does. I'd become accustomed to sleeping in two hour shifts. I started grinding up some very high quality marijuana and mixing it up in her prescription wet food. After beginning feeding her that she always sleeps through the night, seems to be pain free and definitely feels much better. Although she now is less active than before, she's not hurting and that's a good trade in my opinion. I do not use marijuana myself, hate it actually, I had to go out and find it just for her. She is still dying, will probably only last another month or two, but in the meantime she's pain free, back to being snuggly and affectionate and I feel good about giving it to her.

  16. Peach McDouall

    this article is specifically about dogs (in case any other cat owners are looking for information here)

  17. Joel Weisberger

    My friends akita used to do the same thing, follow the pipe around the circle and put his head in your lap. If you didn't blow your hit in his face he'd paw at your leg. When he was done he'd go lay belly up on the grass and get some sun.

  18. Jackie Hdez

    I have a stomach condition right now that forbids me to take any NSAID because it's prone to give me ulcers and acidic issues and pain why would I give my dog aspirin when it can have those nasty side effects? To top it off not even aspirin has proven to be safe for dogs as it has its side effects as well. People thing pills are safe, but what many dont realize is that over the counter drugs are easier, cheaper, and easily able to overdose you. Why do people have such a negative view on this plant God made? Anywho this is a link to a site that explains not even aspirin is safe, if I'm not safe with nasty pills I doubt my little pet will

  19. Jackie Hdez

    Kfm Dallas I'm glad you use it for compassion and not for fun, that's a responsible pet owner

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