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What to Do if Your Dog Eats Marijuana

10/1/2019 Health & Wellness

With the growing acceptance of medical and recreational marijuana going strong in the United States, the risk of pets accidentally consuming cannabis is increasing.  Some vets in Colorado say that the number of incidents they would normally see in a year is what they are now seeing on a monthly basis since the passing of recreational marijuana in the state.

CBD oils for dogs are out in the market and products found in pet stores and vet offices are great to give to your dog for pain, anxiety and other issues – without the stoned dog symptoms.  Still if your pet has consumed any CBD products that are not specifically designed for animals you should consider it an accidental pet consumption of cannabis and take the necessary steps for your animal’s care.

Stoned dog symptoms

Accidental marijuana consumption is more common in dogs than in cats, since they are the less-finicky eaters of the two common household pets.  If either your cat or your dog’s behavior is off or they exhibit any of the following symptoms, always play it safe and call your vet.

Symptoms for stoned cats and dogs include:

  • Loss of balance while walking
  • Bumping into walls and furniture
  • Dilated pupils
  • Problems breathing
  • Unusual energy levels (either extreme lethargy or hyperactivity, depending on their normal activity level)
  • Vocalization (unusual wailing or yelping)
  • Lower heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

If you think your pet has only eaten a small amount of marijuana – like droppings from rolling a joint or a few crumbs of an edible – your pet is probably fine (though it depends on the size of the animal).  Keep an eye on your pet for any signs of odd behavior. If possible, have your pet lie down and keep them calm (this would be the time to Netflix and chill with your four-legged friend!).

Keep in mind:  marijuana is safe for humans but since it is still illegal on the federal level research on the effects and safe dosages for animals is almost non-existent.  Therefore it is highly recommended to always be on the safe side if you think your pet might have consumed marijuana.

Be sure to pet-proof your home!

What to do if your dog accidentally eats marijuana

First and foremost:  stay calm. This will help keep your pet calm.

  1. Call your vet or the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline and follow their instructions exactly.  Be honest with answers to their questions. Veterinarians’ only concern is the well-being of your pet and are not mandated to report marijuana usage to the authorities (should you live in a state that has not yet legalized medical or recreational cannabis).They will likely direct you to …
  2. Go to your vet’s office.  If possible, have someone go with you so you can comfort your pet on the ride there.  Again, when you are there be honest with your answers so they can best treat your pet.  Their treatment will likely include administering activated charcoal (to absorb any non-digested THC), giving fluids intravenously (to dilute any non-digested THC)
  3. If you think your pet has only consumed a very small amount of cannabis you can give your pet activated charcoal while keeping them relaxed and calm.  Since most people don’t have activated charcoal on hand, it is still highly recommended to call your vet in any case.

Marijuana in the quantities that most people have on hand is not known to be fatal in household pets, though with only a handful of viable studies it’s not clear the real effects it has on animals.  There have only been a few reports of severe adverse effects of very large quantities of weed consumed by animals, but until research on pets can be conducted … play it safe. Call your vet.

True story:  My dog ate an MMJ edible

My Jack Russell Terrier – as you can imagine – is always full of energy, playful and is always getting into things.  She is lovingly referred to as my little “stinker pot”, so when she was walking around one day bumping into things at first I didn’t really think anything of it.  But a few wall bumps turned into a lot of wobbling. Then she had trouble standing up and her hind legs started giving out. This was all within a few minutes, so I knew something was really wrong.  I scooped her up in a blanket and, with the help of a friend, frantically drove her to the vet.

When we arrived at the vet’s office, the tech immediately took me to the examination room while I waited nervously in the waiting room. I could hear her wailing and crying in the waiting room, which scared me even more. Finally the vet came out and asked me the routine questions which – for Colorado – included if it was possible my dog had accidentally consumed marijuana. That was it.

I remembered having left a half-eaten cannabis cookie in my bedside table drawer.  Though it was sealed in a tight plastic container, my little stinker pot managed to get into it and eat what was left of a cannabis cookie.

My Jack Russell Terrier enjoying some rest in a dark room after eating 1/2 of a medical marijuana cookie.

Fortunately for her, with the treatment of activated charcoal, intravenous fluids and a small bit of sedation she was not in any danger.  The vet was kind and non-judgmental, and instructed me to stay with her until the effects wore off. We went home and I felt unbelievably relieved that she was going to be OK but incredibly guilty that it had happened.  The whole experience was something I would never want to repeat and would never wish on anyone or their pets.

From then on I kept my medical cannabis in a tight rubber container in a flip-locked mason jar in one of the upper cabinets.  Like with children, keeping your stash safe and away from your pets is paramount and is simply being a responsible marijuana user.

What not to do with marijuana and pets

  1. For accidental consumption, do not induce vomiting.  Dogs and cats can easily choke on their own vomit. Vomit induction should only be done by an experienced vet.
  2. Never blow smoke in your pet’s face to get them high.  Their lungs are more sensitive than humans’ plus the smoke will contain THC.
  3. Remember that edibles contain chocolate and/or xylitol which are toxic for dogs in any amount.

Fortunately in states with recreational and medical marijuana legalized veterinarians are becoming more familiar with cases of accidental consumption, still prior diligence on the pet owner’s part can help prevent an unnecessary trip to the vet, the effects it might have on your pet and simply being a responsible marijuana user.


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