What To Do in Case of Marijuana Intoxication
By: Christine New, DVM
Published December 2015
Marijuana in all forms is toxic to dogs and cats. Marijuana ingestion occurs much more commonly in dogs than in cats because dogs tend to be less scrupulous in the things they eat. After consuming marijuana, dogs typically show clinical signs within 30 to 90 minutes. Signs include wobbliness and incoordination, drowsiness, jitteriness, restlessness and hypersensitivity to touch, sound and lights, meaning they startle easily. Dogs may urinate on themselves, have low heart rates and dilated pupils.
Veterinarians are not required to report pet marijuana ingestion to law enforcement. If there is a possibility that marijuana was in the pet’s environment, it is best to be honest and forthcoming so prompt and appropriate treatment can begin. Similarly, you should disclose any other possible drug ingestion (illicit or prescription) to your veterinarian. If there is marijuana in your pet’s environment and your pet is not acting normally, you should assume your pet has access to it. Remember, dogs can be adept in gaining access to things they would like to eat.
If marijuana ingestion is suspected, a urine sample can be tested to confirm exposure and likely intoxication. Human urine drug tests can be purchased without a prescription from any drug store as well as the pharmacy section of many grocery stores. Human urine drug tests are highly accurate at detecting marijuana and other drugs in your pet’s urine. If there is a suspicion that your pet may have ingested a drug, your veterinarian may ask you to provide a urine drug test while clinic staff members obtain a urine sample for testing. Urine drug tests provide accurate results within five to 10 minutes.
Treatment for marijuana intoxication is focused on removing the marijuana from your pet’s body. If ingestion occurred within 30 minutes of the time of presentation and your pet is alert and appears to be acting normal, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to remove as much of the material as possible prior to absorption. This greatly reduces the potential for toxicity. Owners should not attempt to make dogs vomit since serious and potentially life-threatening complications such as choking and aspiration can occur.
Your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization of your pet for 12 to 24 hours for close monitoring. Additional treatments that may be administered include intravenous (IV) fluids and oral activated charcoal, which can further help absorb the marijuana in your pet’s system. IV fluids hasten the excretion of the drug in your pet’s urine while activated charcoal binds to the drug within the gastrointestinal tract to further reduce absorption and aid in excretion in subsequent stools.
Close monitoring of your pet’s body temperature, heart rate and breathing are also needed until the marijuana has been cleared from your pet’s body and your pet returns to normal. Marijuana is a powerful sedative, and at high doses, it can induce a life-threatening coma. With appropriate, interventional care by a veterinarian, marijuana toxicity is almost never fatal. Long-term side effects are extremely rare.
Dr. Christine New practices veterinary medicine at the Hillside Veterinary Clinic in Dallas.
You may not know what to do if your dog eats weed, but pet marijuana intoxication can be serious and demands attention; here's what you'll need to do.
What To Do When Your Dog Eats Weed
Cannabis is great and dogs are awesome. It’s simply a fact. That being said, weed is for humans only (just in case you weren’t sure). However, accidents do happen and we’re here to help. If your dog ate weed or if you’re a cannabis-loving dog owner, this article provides relevant answers to commonly asked questions about dogs and marijuana. Can dogs get high? Can dogs eat weed? Does marijuana hurt dogs? How does weed affect dogs? Should you take your dog to the vet? These are all great questions, and knowing the answers may prevent your furry friend from finding itself in an unfortunate situation. Read ahead to learn more about what happens if your dog eats weed.
Can Dogs Get High From Eating Weed?
Yes, if your dog ate marijuana, they will likely get high. Here are a few tell-tale symptoms to help you identify if your dog has ingested cannabis:
- Unsteady movements and an unstable balance
- Confused look and dazed eyes
- Nervousness and paranoia
- Dilated pupils
- Low temperature and heart rate
- Dribbling urine
Is Weed Bad For Dogs?
While a stoned dog might sound like an entertaining experiment, marijuana definitely falls under the category of what not to feed your dog. If you’ve thought about giving marijuana to dog friends, please don’t. Dogs and weed do not mix. Unlike humans, THC is poisonous to many animals and the effects of marijuana on dogs can often cause distress and be downright harmful. Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors than humans do, which means they feel the effects much more intensely.
If you’re looking for medical supplements for your dog, consider asking your vet about CBD products. Although marijuana is bad for dogs, CBD has not proven harmful and may even be beneficial to your pets who suffer from anxiety, pain, etc.
Can Weed Kill A Dog?
Marijuana alone has not proven to be lethal if ingested by a dog. However, there are at least two scenarios that may prove deadly to your dog if it eats weed:
If Your Dog Gets Too High Alone
When a dog ingests cannabis, the effects will last roughly 24 hours before wearing off completely. During that time, a dog might become extremely affected by the THC. Marijuana toxicity in dogs may cause them to throw up; and if your dog is too high, they may fatally choke on their own vomit. It’s critical to your dog’s health that you never leave it alone if it eats any form of cannabis!
If Your Dog Ate Edible Brownies
There is a large list of foods dogs should not eat which includes chocolate, alcohol, citrus, caffeine, nuts, undercooked meat and yeast dough. Like flower or other forms of cannabis, edibles are unhealthy for pets to eat. However, they can be especially dangerous because of other potential ingredients. If your dog ate edible brownies or some other combination of weed and chocolate, there is a chance the combination may prove fatal.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Marijuana?
If your dog is showing any symptoms of having eaten weed, the first thing you should do is call your local veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center. You will find our recommended response below, but it’s only meant to help guide you through making sure your pet is safe as possible – it cannot replace a professional’s medical opinion.
When you first realize your dog has probably eaten marijuana, follow these steps as rationally as possible:
Your dog is likely going to be okay but still needs your help. Therefore, it’s important that you keep a level head and follow through with the rest of these steps. If you happen to be high, try to remain focused and avoid any distractions.
Call Your Veterinarian, Local Animal ER or the Animal Poison Control Center
As stated above, the first action you should take is to call a professional. Trained veterinarians will know whether or not you need to bring your dog in and can give you guidance through the process. Vets also aren’t obligated to report marijuana ingestion to police, so you don’t have to worry about getting in trouble. Note that most animal hospitals or animal ERs will make you bring your pet in to see them (as they won’t be able to make a diagnosis over the phone), so be prepared to get in the car quickly.
Evaluate the Symptoms
If you think or know your dog has ingested some form of THC, check for any noticeable symptoms. This will help professionals determine the toxicity levels and relevant dangers. Even if your dog is not yet showing any side effects, make sure you’ve called a vet and proceed to the next steps.
Determine How Much and What Type of Weed Your Dog Ate
Did your dog get into your stash and eat edibles, flower, concentrate, etc? Are you not sure where the weed came from? Are you unable to determine how much was ingested or whether or not it was actually weed?
The more details a vet knows about your dog’s THC consumption, the better. Since this is critical to your dog’s health, be honest and upfront with the veterinarian when describing what was eaten. Depending on your dog’s size, the concentration of THC consumed could prove very dangerous.
Drive Your Animal To A Professional For Evaluation
This step is critical if the symptoms are already noticeable, if you have a smaller dog, or if your dog ate edibles or other food with additionally harmful ingredients (like chocolate). Immediately get your dog to the nearest professional for help.
If You Can’t See a Veterinarian, Wait It Out
As scary as it is, these situations often come down to a waiting game. The best thing to do is to stay calm and provide as much support to your dog as possible. Petting him/her, sitting next to them, talking to them, etc. are wonderful ways to show love. Continuously check to see if your dog’s eyes are dilated or if breathing patterns change, which may mean staying awake with your pet throughout the entirety of the night. If your dog hasn’t had water in a while (which is a large danger), try small ice chips around their gums or provide more enticing liquids like chicken or beef broth. From personal experience, the latter works wonders!
How Should You Store Your Cannabis?
As more states continue to legalize cannabis, reports of dogs and THC related veterinary visits are increasing. Try to avoid adding to this unfortunate statistic by thoughtfully storing your stash in a place your dog won’t be able to sniff it out and snarf it down. Here are some foolproof tips for storing your cannabis:
- Always keep your weed in a durable, lockable container. Not only will this keep your weed fresh and the smell contained, but it acts as a second round of protection in case your dog still manages to find it.
- Store your stash up in high locations, like in kitchen or bathroom cabinets.
- If you don’t want cannabis in your house and live in a state where weed is legalized, placing it in the trunk of your car satisfies most state laws.
If you’re reading through this article, chances are high that you’re a cannabis enthusiast. If we’ve helped you learn about dogs and marijuana, let us also help you find a local dispensary you can trust. If you’ve got a safe place to stash weed, you should probably make sure you’ve got some quality product to actually store. Visit our website to learn more about the cannabis industry and reputable dispensaries near you.
Has your pet consumed weed? If so, what happened and what did you do to make them feel better? Please leave your own tips in the comments below to help other readers in the future!
Cannabis is great and dogs are awesome. It’s simply a fact. That being said, weed is for humans only (just in case you weren’t sure). However, accidents do happen and we’re here to help. If your dog ate weed or if you’re a cannabis-loving dog owner, this article provides relevant answers to commonly asked questions about dogs and marijuana. Can dog