Full disclosure: I voted against legalizing marijuana. Not because I think it’s bad, or because I care what people do in their free time, but because I knew there would be an increase in the number of marijuana toxicities we see in animals.

Sure enough, no sooner was the vote counted than we started getting calls from owners asking if they could give their pets marijuana for pain and anxiety.

Short answer: No, you can’t. Marijuana hasn’t been studied in animals to determine its medical uses and safe dosing.

What we do know is that animals aren’t people. People can eat all kinds of things that animals can’t.

Grapes, raisins, chocolate, sugar-free gum, macadamia nuts and onions are all safe for people but toxic to dogs and cats. Tylenol and Advil are safe enough for people that they’re sold over the counter – in dogs and cats, they can be fatal. Cats, in particular, lack an enzyme that lets them break down drugs – a drug that lasts 12 hours in a dog can last two days in a cat.

Even those drugs that are safe are often given at different doses for different species. We aren’t assuming that pot will have the same benefits for animals that it does for people, and that a safe dose in humans is also safe for pets.

This is what happens to dogs who get into marijuana: They vomit. They lose control of their legs and their bladder. Their blood pressure drops. They become unconscious. They get cardiac arrhythmias.

Not all dogs have all of these signs, but the signs can persist for days after ingestion, and veterinary care is expensive.

Please don’t give marijuana to your pets. We have plenty of drugs that are proven safe for pain and anxiety. When this one has been proven, we’ll make it available. Until then, the answer is no.

Leah Goodman, DVM

Forest Avenue Veterinary Hospital

Portland


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