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Marijuana: Medicine or Toxin?

Everyone is talking about the beneficial aspects of medical marijuana. As it is becoming more mainstream, Veterinarians are seeing more and more sick pets that have been either accidentally or purposefully given this drug. Unfortunately, these pets are very ill, as Marijuana is a toxin! 

What you need to know:

We have limited research on how Marijuana works in people, and even less on dogs and cats. We know that it contains more than 70 different cannabinoids, but we don’t know what they all do. We also know that pets are different than human beings in the way they process this drug, and that it is toxic to dogs and cats. The two cannabinoids we know about:

    1. Marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a psychoactive drug that affects the brain. Signs of exposure (smoke, ingestion) are stumbling/confusion, low heart rate, urinary incontinence, choking/pneumonia, and eventually unconsciousness. These pets must be admitted and monitored for 24 hours – 5 days in a Veterinary hospital for temperature and heart rate monitoring, intravenous fluids and medications to minimize the toxic effects.
    2. Marijuana also contains cannabidiol (CBD), which is the ingredient that is currently being researched in humans for cancer and anxiety treatments. It is all currently EXPERIMENTAL. This means that some dogs will benefit, and some may develop severe complications. The appropriate dosing, formulation, and source are all so variable and unknown that giving/treating a pet with this drug could potentially make the pet more ill. It has potential to be a treatment in the future, but currently Canadian Veterinarians do not have access to prescribing marijuana to pets under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations does not provide us with licensed Veterinary sources of marijuana for the reasons listed above.
      • There is currently no legal pathway for veterinarians in New Brunswick to prescribe medical marijuana to animals.
      • There are currently no CBD products approved by Health Canada and therefore no legal pathway to obtain these products.
      • See Veterinary Drugs Directorate at Health Canada for more information http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/contact/dhp-mps/hpfb-dgpsa/vdd-dmv-eng.php
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Written by: Moncton Animal Hospital

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