With the passage of marijuana laws in various surrounding states but not in Wisconsin, there can be fears by clients that if their pets should accidently ingest their illegal products that reporting to their veterinarian what was/suspected eaten will result in fines, reporting to the police or other agencies. However veterinarians are held to the same confidentiality standards that lawyers and human physicians honor when seeing clients. The knowledge of what drugs (Cannabis, Cocaine, Heroin, fentanyl, LSD, methamphetamines, PCP, Ecstasy, Opioids, magic mushrooms) were ingested can allow us to start treatment earlier and order the correct tests to monitor a patient faster.

Marijuana falls into four categories: 1) THC containing products (the “high” producing versions) 2) CBD (the therapeutic with almost no “high”) 3) hemp (fiber, etc.) 4) synthetic (the “high” without medicinal effect). Ingestion in animals most commonly involves the THC versions when mixed with food (chocolate containing products accounting for more than half of the cases) or concentrates for smoking/vaping. The most common signs is lethargy, urinary incontinence, walking difficulty, vomiting and seizures. The other complication is different products/brands can have different amounts of THC and the ingestion of the foods containing THC includes additional signs. CBD, which people use for various medical uses in humans and animals, have occasionally been reported to cause signs similar to the THC containing products and the Pet Poison hotline experts suspect it is due to the poor regulation of the product quality.

Testing for marijuana will include bloodwork and urine to rule out other causes for the signs and stomach/urine/blood for outside lab testing for THC. The over-the-counter urine tests for humans isn’t valid in animals. Obliviously if we know the pet ate the drug we can start the treatment to make the animal vomit, give activated charcoal to prevent absorption of the drug and supportive care (hospitalization, fluids and treating low temperature/blood pressure).

CBD is still illegal per the DEA website except for Epidiolex which was approved last year for certain human seizures. However, this is at the federal government level and as many people know individual states have their own laws which allow/disallow use of various categories of cannabis. In Wisconsin, CBD oil and hemp are the only legal categories. But as surrounding states adopt legalization of other versions, animal exposure can increase.

Finally, to quote Sir Francis Bacon “Knowledge is Power”.