Pets are some of life’s greatest pleasures. There is nothing like coming home to your furry friend, seeing a wagging tail or hearing a soothing purr and cuddling up with some unconditional love.
Then again, pets also tend to be small, uncontrollable terrors. Every pet owner has stepped through their front door to find something broken to bits, something gnawed on or dug up, something covered in some gross bodily fluid. That’s why most pet owners know to keep their homes pet-friendly, without foods, plants or décor that could harm their fur-babies or in turn be harmed by improper pet behavior.
But — what about weed? Most states that have legalized recreational marijuana usage have also permitted users to cultivate a small number of cannabis plants per household. Is it safe for you, as a pet owner, to grow marijuana around your pets, and how can you keep both pets and cannabis crops happy and healthy?
Pets and marijuana shouldn’t mix — period. Unfortunately, pets can devastate even the healthiest cannabis crops, but worse, marijuana can poison your pets, leaving them impaired or even killing them. It is important to know exactly what can happen to each party, so you can intervene and save your weed and your furry friends.
The Worst That Could Happen to Your Cannabis
Trampled. If you keep your cannabis crop outside in your garden, you might notice your pets frolicking through the plants with glee. While this might be cute, it has a negative impact on the health of your marijuana plants. Too much foot traffic around your plants can compact the soil, making it more difficult for the roots to receive nutrients. Additionally, pets can crush the plants themselves during play, which will surely kill your crop.
Chewed. Cats and dogs are carnivores, meaning they must have an abundance of meat in their diet to survive. Even so, in the wild, both cats and dogs tend to nibble on plants to gain supplementary nutrition. Inside the home, pets might chew on houseplants because they like the taste or simply because they are bored. Small munching on a marijuana plant could stunt its growth, slowing your access to the delectable buds, but severe chewing could kill the plant entirely.
Dug. Digging is an instinctive behavior in both cats and dogs. Pets can dig to hide their waste, but they might also dig for fun or to satisfy a prey drive. In any case, digging around your marijuana plants isn’t good. Your cannabis crop needs plenty of soil around its roots to prevent those roots from drying out, breaking or rotting. Digging behaviors can also fully uproot a plant, and replanting is a difficult and risky process that will likely result in your plant’s death.
Burnt. Worst of all, your pets might find your marijuana crop to be the best place to answer the call of nature. Though some animal manure is good for plants, both dogs and cats have high-protein diets that result in solid waste that is extremely high in phosphorus. Though small amounts of phosphorus can encourage your plants to develop strong leafy growth, too much will interfere with your cannabis’s ability to absorb nutrients. Pet urine causes a similar problem with an overabundance of nitrogen. Plants burned in this way will become weak and struggle to recover.
The Worst That Could Happen to Your Pets
High. Cats and dogs experience the effects of THC just like people do, which means your pets will get high if they inhale or ingest activated marijuana, which doesn’t include leaves or trimmed cannabis. However, this doesn’t mean you should give your furry friend an edible. Because pets don’t understand why it is happening, cats and dogs can become frightened, erratic and violent while they are high. It almost certainly isn’t a pleasant experience for them.
Poisoned. Because cats and dogs are smaller than humans, they need much less THC to become high — and they can overdose on THC much easier. Marijuana poisoning, or overdosing, manifests in different ways. You should be on the lookout for extreme lethargy, difficulty walking, frequent vomiting or incontinence and seizures as well as signs of agitation, like whining, trembling or pacing. Pet experiencing marijuana poisoning should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
Killed. When pets consume too much cannabis, they die. THC affects blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, and too much can cause a pet to slip into a coma. Fortunately, death from a THC overdose is rare, even in pets; unfortunately, pets can die from other circumstances, like choking on their vomit. What’s more, high animals might make life-threatening mistakes, like falling into a pool or off a second-story landing.
Keep Plants and Pets Separate
Again, pets won’t get sick from nibbling on your cannabis crop — THC requires decarboxylation to become psychoactive, which essentially means you need to heat it up before it can make you (or your pets) high. Even so, you don’t want to risk your weed garden around your pets.
If possible, you should train your furry friends to stay far away from your cannabis crop, but an even better and more secure solution is to put a physical barrier between your plants and your pets. If you grow your marijuana indoors, you should keep them in a room with a door, which you can close against your pets. You could also easily hang one of pot growing kits from the ceiling to keep your marijuana plants off the ground and less accessible. Then again, if you grow your crop outside, you should install a fence around the perimeter of your garden and perhaps add netting around your plants, to keep out all manner of pests.
You can’t live without your pets, but you shouldn’t have to make the choice between having pets and growing weed. By taking some simple measures, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of both while keeping them safe from one another.