Let’s be honest. Marijuana legalization is becoming a thing. No judgment here. If you use it, that’s your decision. However, it’s imperative that you do so responsibly. You must make sure to at least keep the weed out of reach of those who can get hurt by it, including dogs.
That being said, accidents happen. Dogs get into things they’re not supposed to, especially when it comes to edible marijuana products. Call your vet right away if your dog eats something they shouldn’t.
Should your pup manage to get into your stash, take the following steps to ensure they’re safe and cared for in an emergency situation of over-consumption and overdose.
What Will Happen If Your Dog Eats Weed?
It’s important to note that more than 75% of a dog’s regular diet consists of animal protein, which implies that a dog’s digestive system isn’t used to processing plant matter.
So, the mere fact that weed is a plant means that ingesting it could expose your pooch to a wide range of gastrointestinal complications, such as;
- Nausea which leads to a loss of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea which lead to dehydration
- Abdominal pain
- Bowel and bladder incontinence
Besides the above gastrointestinal side effects, a dog may also exhibit the following symptoms from eating marijuana;
- Allergy-related symptoms, such as irritability, excessive scratching, runny eyes and nose
- Changes in body temperature (including alternating fever and chills)
- Changes in breathing patterns
- Elevated heart rate
- Generalized fatigue
- Incessant barking, howling, growling, or whining
- Dilated pupils and other forms of unusual eye movements
- Poor motor coordination, as is characterized by wobbliness
- Mental and neurological symptoms, such as seizures, tremors, hallucinations, and disorientation
While weed may not kill your dog immediately, according to veterinarians, if the above symptoms manifest themselves and go untreated for a prolonged duration, the dog may slip into a coma and eventually die.
Observe Your Pet
Some pets may only become slightly wobbly or lethargic, but this doesn’t mean you get a pass to relax.
Three grams of THC–the reactive ingredient in pot–per two pounds of your dog’s weight can be lethal. That’s a lot of weed, to be fair, and probably more than your dog would ever eat.
However, smaller amounts may still lead to seizures or comas. So in the event your dog starts exhibiting these severe symptoms, you should get them to an emergency vet immediately.
Additionally, medical-grade marijuana can contain far more THC and take much less to be dangerous for dogs. That’s why it’s so important to keep it out of reach.
Record any symptoms your dog might be having. Try to find out exactly what your dog ate and when. You should have this information ready for your vet, as it will help them provide the right kind of treatment.
Be Aware Of The Signs Of Marijuana Toxicity In Dogs
Since the legalization of marijuana is more widespread, it’s now available in many different forms. From the plant to oils and edibles, there are plenty of opportunities for dogs to get their paws on some weed.
However, each of these types of weed have their own risks for dogs.
“The toxin in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is highly concentrated in the flower buds and tiny leaves on top of the plant,” explains Dr. Ibrahim Shokry, BVSC, MVSC, PHD, professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Marijuana leaves have less than 10% THC. Oils and butters used in making candies and food products contain the highest concentrations of THC—up to 90%—and are the most toxic,” says Dr. Shokry.
Regardless of whether your dog has eaten a lot of marijuana or just a small amount, you should still call your vet as soon as you can. Symptoms from small doses will usually not be much concern, but it’s best to be safe.
Here are a few signs of mild to moderate marijuana poisoning in dogs that you should watch for and report to your vet:
- Wobbly, uncoordinated movements
- Barking, howling, or whining
- Dilated pupils or unusual eye movements
- Slowed breathing
- Changes in body temperature
- Hyperactivity or agitation
- Rapid heart rate
Most of the time, these symptoms fade quickly, but they can make your dog very miserable. It’s best that you call your vet and get their advice for treatment. In the meantime, keep your dog hydrated with plenty of water.
Signs of more severe marijuana poisoning include tremors, seizures, and coma. You should contact an emergency veterinarian right away if you see these symptoms.
What to Do If Your Dog Consumes Marijuana
1. Find Out the Quantity and Type of Weed That The Dog Has Consumed
It’s reasonably easy to estimate the amount of weed that a dog has eaten. In most cases, all you’ll need to do is compare the product’s quantity before and after the dog ate it. In the case of marijuana plants, you’ll assess the extent of the damage.
After establishing how much weed your dog has consumed, try to understand the individual compounds in the product. If the dog has ingested a cannabis edible, read the ingredients list to understand the active compounds in the product. For instance, marijuana products with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will cause the dog more hallucinations, since THC is a psychoactive compound.
And if your canine friend has ingested cannabis plants, note the specific part of the plant consumed. According to experts, THC is usually concentrated in the flower buds and tiny leaves on top of the cannabis plant.
2. Monitor the Symptoms
Regardless of how much weed your dog has consumed or the specific cannabis compounds he has been exposed to, it’s important to keep an eye out for any symptoms. That’s because treatment for cannabis poisoning in dogs typically addresses the most severe symptoms.
We already highlighted some of the top symptoms of marijuana poisoning in dogs. However, there could be additional symptoms, depending on the toxicity of other non-cannabis ingredients in the product. This mostly applies to edible products.
For instance, chocolate is highly toxic to dogs due to theobromine and a chemical that’s relative of caffeine known as methylxanthine. Therefore, even if cannabis-infused chocolate contains fewer amounts of cannabinoids, the edible will likely make your dog sick.
3. Administer Emergency Treatments
If you notice any signs of cannabis toxicity in dogs, you should move with speed to administer emergency treatments. As we’ve already indicated, treatment options should address the symptoms.
For instance, you might consider offering your dog more water to counteract the effects of vomiting and diarrhea. Since the dog will likely have lost appetite, plain water won’t do here. Instead, offer your pet flavored fluids, such as broth.
Also, you can give the dog activated charcoal to prevent further toxicity. Once ingested, activated charcoal binds to food molecules in your dog’s stomach, preventing further absorption of toxic cannabinoids.
Most importantly, note that these are temporary measures that you only adopt while preparing to take the dog to the vet.
4. Visit the Vet
A visit to the vet is paramount, regardless of the quantity or type of weed your dog has consumed. The vet will scrutinize the dog’s condition and prescribe the right treatment option. If possible, carry the specific cannabis product that the dog consumed, which will help with diagnosis.
If the dog is visibly dehydrated, the vet may administer intravenous fluid therapy. Treatments will also focus on preventing the further reabsorption of toxins. To that end, the vet may induce vomiting using hydrogen peroxide or administer activated charcoal.
Even better, your vet will try to stabilize the dog’s cardiovascular system by normalizing the dog’s heart rate and breathing pattern. And at the end of the treatment, the vet will recommend a raft of measures to take to reduce future incidences of your dog’s exposure to weed products.
Cannabis toxicity in dogs is a severe problem. That’s because dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their endocannabinoid system than humans, which makes them more sensitive to weed. Therefore, your best bet is to keep all weed products and plants out of bounds for your canine friends. But if your pooch sneaks up behind your back and consumes weed, visit the vet immediately.
What Tests Will the Vet Do?
Your dog is going to be very disoriented and confused. While you quickly get ready to go to the veterinarian, keep them in a quiet room to help reduce sensory stimulation.
Once you arrive at the vet’s, they will evaluate your dog to see the level of toxicity and the current state of your dog’s body functions.
“To determine the health status of your pet, organ function and the seriousness of the toxicity, expect your veterinarian to perform blood work and a urinalysis,” says Dr. Carlson.
“Dogs sometimes eat the container the drug was kept in or other material when ingesting marijuana, making diagnostic imaging necessary,” he explains.
Blood pressure is often checked, too, since the heart rate can be greatly decreased and these animals sometimes require intravenous fluids to support their blood pressure.
Everyone At Home Needs To Prevent Further Risks
Make sure everyone in your home knows to always keep any drugs out of reach of children and pets. This is the most important move and best way to ensure your pets stay safe.
A small dog can eat a stray joint left on a coffee table and get very high or sick. So everyone living in and visiting your home needs to understand the dangers and risks and be willing to take precautions to keep your pup safe.
Tell all of your household members where to find your vet’s phone number in the event of an emergency when you’re not home. If you have to work long hours, you may want to assign a trusted caretaker to keep an eye on your pet when you’re at work.
You may be able to notice even slight changes in behavior for your dog. However, if you live with roommates or other people, they may not be as in tune with your pup as you are. Go over the possible effects of marijuana on dogs with them so they know what to look for and report to the vet.
Don’t Let This Happen To Your Dog
One of our readers came home from work to find their Pug acting very strange one day. It took about an hour for him to realize that his pup ate a joint that his roommate had left on a table while he was at work.
He questioned his roommate, who told him that the pup had been acting strange all day long. The dog owner determined that his Pug likely ate the marijuana earlier and was luckily on the tail end of the effects. He decided to monitor the pup, feed him a meal of scrambled eggs, and keep him hydrated.
This time, things turned out fine, but that’s not always the case, and it’s always better to call your vet for advice. The whole situation could have been avoided if the roommate knew the dangers and took better care to keep his weed out of reach.