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
Legal Weed’s A Growing Danger To Dogs, So Keep Your Canine Out Of Your Cannabis
A high Maizey Klivans, home after getting checked out by the vet. Her human (the author) found her in this infrequently occupied area of the apartment … just … mellowing out. (Laura Klivans/KQED)
This story is part of a partnership that includes KQED, NPR and Kaiser Health News.
This story can be republished for free (details).
When I tried to get her up, she stumbled, nearly falling over while standing still. Walking to the vet, she leaped like a puppy chasing imaginary balls.
Later, at the 24-hour veterinary clinic in San Francisco’s Mission District, the staff ran tests and determined Maizey was in no immediate danger.
Instead, they wagered a guess that Maizey was simply high. On marijuana.
How Are Dogs Getting High?
“Dogs will get into anything and everything,” said veterinarian Dorrie Black of the San Francisco-based veterinary clinic Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services.
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia now have legalized pot in some form. And since Colorado ushered in recreational marijuana in 2014, nine more states and D.C. have followed. As weed has become easier for people to get, it has also become a hazard for dogs.
Black said dogs ingest marijuana by eating the remainder of a joint, or getting into someone’s edible marijuana, either at home, on the street or in parks.
Another unsavory source in San Francisco — and other cities with high numbers of people living on the streets — is human feces tainted with marijuana. This is, in fact, what we think happened to Maizey. She had spent quite a bit of time in the park bushes the morning she got stoned.
“Dogs love that [poop] scent; to them, it’s perfume,” said Black.
Black and other veterinarians see this becoming more common in the Bay Area, as the homeless population grows.
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What Does A High Dog Look Like?
Veterinarian Benjamin Otten of allCREATURES veterinary clinic in El Cerrito, Calif., said he looks for these telltale symptoms when identifying “marijuana toxicity” in a dog:
- Wobbly movements, like a person who is drunk
- Dribbling urine
- A dazed or glazed look in their eyes
- Low temperature
Dogs exhibit these symptoms because THC — the psychoactive element of marijuana — is poisonous to them. Despite that, none of the vets interviewed for this story had seen an animal die from marijuana toxicity.
“There’s nothing about that actual drug itself that will kill them,” Black said. “It doesn’t cause any organ failure. It doesn’t cause liver failure, renal failure.”
What can happen, Black said, is that the drug can sedate a dog so fully that it will inhale its own vomit, which can be lethal. For that reason, Black cautions pet owners to play it safe.
“If you do not know the quantity that they got into, I’m always going to recommend that you go to your vet,” she said.
Dr. Dorrie Black works at a 24-hour veterinary clinic near Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. She says she often treats three dogs per week who have ingested marijuana. (Laura Klivans/KQED)
A Colorado study found that two dogs who’d ingested chocolate baked goods made with marijuana-infused butter had died, but it’s unclear if this was from the marijuana, the chocolate or the combination of those components. Butter and dark chocolate, common ingredients in edible marijuana products, can be highly toxic to dogs.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, on the other hand, is marketed to pet owners for a variety of pet ailments. But the research is incomplete about its efficacy for treating things like animal anxiety and seizures, and veterinarians are not allowed to recommend CBD to patients (although a bill making its way through California’s Senate could change that).
How Do You Treat A Dog That Has Ingested Marijuana?
To reduce marijuana’s effects on a dog, Black said, there are a few options: Veterinarians can induce vomiting, pump a dog’s stomach or give the dog activated charcoal, which will help remove the marijuana from the dog’s system.
On average, it typically takes about 24 hours for a dog to return to normal — but it varies depending on the strength and amount of marijuana the dog has eaten.
Otten, who formerly worked as an emergency vet, joked about what he used to tell pet owners: “We’re gonna take your dog in, we’re gonna put him in a quiet room. We’re gonna play some Led Zeppelin for him and give him some Doritos, and you can pick him up in the morning.”
Maizey attempts to sit up straight while waiting to see the vet after she ate some suspect substances in the park. (Laura Klivans/KQED)
How Much Does Treating Your Dog Cost?
While my own vet bill put us out $300, veterinarian John de Jong, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said interventions like bloodwork and IV fluids could cost up to $1,000.
What About Cats?
It seems to be rarer for cats to ingest marijuana. Black said she has seen only one case involving a cat in her 17 years in emergency veterinary medicine.
While de Jong also has not seen any high cats come through his practice, he said, some cats do like to chew on plants, which could be an issue if someone is growing marijuana at home.
How Has Legalization For Humans Changed Things For Dogs?
De Jong, who is based in Massachusetts, is seeing more incidences of marijuana toxicity. Marijuana is legal for medical and recreational purposes in Massachusetts.
“In those states that have legalized marijuana, we are seeing an increased incidence of marijuana toxicity in pets, especially in dogs,” he said.
Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and many more states allow medical marijuana.
Calls to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center about dogs eating weed have increased sevenfold since last year, and calls to the Pet Poison Helpline have quadrupled in the past five years. A 2012 study conducted in Colorado found a significant correlation between the number of medical marijuana licenses and marijuana toxicosis cases in dogs.
In California, both Black and Otten said the changes to marijuana’s legality have not significantly increased the number of visits they get from blitzed dogs and their owners. Black said she sees up to three affected dogs a week in the summer.
What Black and Otten said has changed, however, is the potency of the drugs the dogs are consuming.
Black said that at the start of her career in emergency veterinary medicine, marijuana toxicity consisted of a dog eating the end of a joint with fairly low amounts of THC. But, she said, “we got heavier and heavier toxicities over time because of medical grade marijuana and because of edibles.”
As for Maizey, she was just fine a few days after her foray into canine cannabis. Though she once seemed interested in imaginary balls, now she has settled back into chasing real ones.
This story is part of a partnership that includes KQED, NPR and Kaiser Health News.
As more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana, dogs are accidentally ingesting the drug and becoming highly intoxicated.