Don't let pets get into marijuana stash, says MVMA

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Members of the province’s veterinary community say it may not be the high life for some dogs when marijuana becomes legalized in Canada.

According to a news release from the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association, there are concerns because pot can potentially be toxic to companion animals, especially dogs, who are far more sensitive to the effects of THC — which is found in hemp and marijuana plants — than people, and that can make recreational marijuana use dangerous to a canine companion.

The symptoms of toxicity can be varied, and signs of cannabis toxicity in dogs include severe disorientation, tremors, twitching, vomiting, and urinary incontinence. Dogs admitted to veterinary facilities with intoxication often appear to be in an unresponsive, comatose state, and can be affected for several days, and anyone who suspects their dog has ingested marijuana is encouraged to call a vet or clinic immediately.

“Dogs are at a greater risk than cats,” said Dr. Shannon Steuart, a veterinarian at South End Veterinary Hospital, which is located at 2-1549 St. Mary’s Rd. in St. Vital. “Cats tend to be more discerning about what they eat, whereas dogs are apt to eat something and then think about it after.”

Steuart, who lives in Riverview, said a key factor in keeping dogs away from temptation is making people mindful about where they store their stash and reminding them to be careful to keep it out of harm’s way.

"It’s important to keep it inaccessible, and important to remember that edibles come in all different forms, such as brownies, so they need to be stored in a place high above where a dog can access. And for people who are smoking the product, it’s important to consider the effects of second-hand smoke, and we don’t recommend smoking it around your pets, especially cats," she added, noting pets can also suffer respiratory distress as a result.

The MVNA stresses that "the effects of using medical marijuana in pets is not well studied to date" but cites there have been "two confirmed deaths in dogs that ate baked goods containing medical grade marijuana" since 2005.

"People must be aware there is no scientific data about what it does to the animal, and just because humans can take it, it doesn’t mean you can give it to pets," Steuart said.

According to the MVNA, there has been a dramatic increase in reported cases of cannabis intoxication in companion animals in line with an increase in the use and acceptance of both medical and recreational cannabis. Officials say the Pet Poison Helpline has reported a 330 per cent increase in calls during the last five years, and 98 per cent of those involve dogs. Edible forms of cannabis can increase the risk of toxicity to dogs, as many contain chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, xylitol, or other drugs.   

   Go online at for more about the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association. Visit to learn more about South End Veterinary Hospital.


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