With cannabis edibles due to hit store shelves as soon as December, some Calgary vets are worried they could see more cases of pets in distress.
THC, which is the main psychoactive component in marijuana, is toxic for pets.
According to James Lange, a veterinarian at VCA Canada Western Veterinary Specialist and Emergency Centre, several pets a week are brought into his clinic because they’ve ingested marijuana.
“People should know that their animals are much more sensitive to marijuana than they are,” said Lange on Wednesday.
Lange worries he could see more seriously sick pets once edibles become widely available for sale.
“I would say my main concern with edibles would be the other compounds we’ll see in these products. There could be artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which are toxic to cats and dogs,” he said.
“High amounts of chocolate, which can also be toxic to cats and dogs. It may be easier for cats and dogs to ingest higher concentrations of THC or marijuana so we may see more severe signs in the future.”
According to Lange, pets rarely die from ingesting marijuana but that can depend on how much is consumed and the bodyweight of the animal.
Symptoms can include hyperactivity, agitation and dribbling urine. In more serious cases, severe heart or lung problems can develop, and some animals can even fall into a coma.
“If you’re concerned your animal has ingested marijuana, bring them into an emergency clinic right away. That’s our best chance to decontaminate them,” Lange recommended.