Regina vet warns cannabis edibles can have 'double toxicity' for pets

Cannabis users will need to be even more cautious about keeping edible forms of the soon-to-be-legal drug away from their pets, says a Regina veterinarian.

Homemade edibles for personal use will be legal under Cannabis Act, but should be kept away from pets

Edible cannabis in candy and brownies is even more dangerous than marijuana alone, according to Regina vet Dr. Lesley Sawa. (Shutterstock)

Cannabis users will need to be particularly cautious about keeping edible forms of the soon-to-be-legal drug away from their pets, says a Regina veterinarian.

Dr. Lesley Sawa said pot brownies and candies can be even more dangerous to dogs than marijuana alone.

"Chocolate is toxic to dogs so then you'll have a double toxicity — you'll have the chocolate toxins and the marijuana THC toxins," said Sawa.

"So those things need to be cleared out of the system very quickly or else we could get in some real trouble with seizures, and possibly even coma."

While the Cannabis Act will not initially legalize the sale of edibles, it will allow adults to make their own for personal use at home.

Not all edibles to be legalized

Symptoms of marijuana ingestion for animals can include staggering, dilated pupils, low temperature and vomiting.

Sawa said anyone who has marijuana at home should keep it locked away in a high cupboard.

Veterinarian Lesley Sawa hopes the coming legalization of marijuana makes people more likely to own up when their pet has ingested by marijuana. She says it's important so vets know how to treat their symptoms. (CBC News)

"Some people obviously forget, right, and so there could be something sitting out, and if your dog does get into it it's really important to bring them to the clinic right away," said Sawa.

Sawa said it is important that people own up when their pet has eaten the drug so vets can identify and treat the symptoms.

"People are very reticent to admit that their dog got into it, and maybe a little embarrassed," said Sawa. 

"But now with the legalization of marijuana coming it might make it easier for us to get that information out so that we can act quickly to help their dog."

No evidence pot helps pet with pain 

Sawa said there is no evidence that marijuana can be used to treat illnesses or reduce pain for pets, as it sometimes is with humans.

Some vets have treated animals with cannabis oil made from hemp, because it does not contain THC, which can be toxic to animals. But dogs and cats have extreme sensitivity to true marijuana.

Sawa said she would not consider using the drug as pain control for pets unless research proved it was beneficial. Right now, she said there is no research of that nature.

"I don't want to be having somebody give their pet marijuana for pain control and then have their pet be in pain longer than it needs to be when we can provide a proper medication," said Sawa.

With files from CBC's Christy Climenhaga