Is it illegal to get your dog high on weed?
"Animal poison control hotlines have been reporting exponential increases in the number of calls about pets exposed to marijuana as the drug has been legalized for medical or recreational use in states across the country," says emergency vet Dr. Caroline Tonozzi of the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Of course, many cases may be caused by dogs eating someone's stash that should have been inaccessible to the animal but it's not hard to imagine an idiot blowing smoke into their dog's snout. And apparently—while stupid—that's not illegal, at least in Illinois, according to animal rights attorney Suzana Harman.
"There are different animal cruelty statutes in each state," Harman told Vice, "so a judge would have to look at the facts of each individual case and see if the manner in which the pet guardian attempted to, or did, get the pet 'high' amounted to animal cruelty. This isn't to say that it won't one day be specifically outlawed, but it's such a new area right now, there are no statutes along those lines."
Some helpful information from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine:
Both dogs and cats can be poisoned by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Dogs are more likely to ingest the drug, while cats are more likely to be sickened by exposure to smoke.
In dogs, the most common signs of marijuana intoxication include dribbling urine, swaying or general unsteadiness, drooling, and being less alert. Cats will show signs that mimic those of neurologic disease, such as appearing to react to visual stimuli that are not actually present. They may also have dilated pupils.
"There have been a small number of reported deaths in dogs from marijuana intoxication. Of particular concern are cases of co-intoxications from consuming marijuana in edible products such as brownies or other baked goods, especially products made with butter or oil containing THC," says Dr. Tonozzi.
"If there is a known ingestion of marijuana, the pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian," advises Dr. Tonozzi. "Important treatment considerations include the potential for co-intoxication from edibles that contain chocolate, raisins, xylitol, or high-fat substances. Your veterinarian can assess the type of care needed, including whether the pet would benefit from decontamination procedures."
Health risks to pets from marijuana exposure include a very low heart rate and becoming so sedate that the pet cannot swallow or stand. "Pets can go into a coma within a few hours of ingestion. Therefore, it is key to have your pet evaluated soon after ingestion," notes Dr. Tonozzi. Ongoing medical monitoring at a veterinary facility may be advisable.