Cannabis (AKA marijuana, weed, pot and more) is now legal in Canada for both Medical and Recreational usage and on the rise in the US and other countries. This means more cannabis may be found in more places in more forms and more dogs may be exposed.
You should know how to tell and what to do if your dog eats weed.
Cannabis contains CBD (Cannabidiol) and Terpenes which may be beneficial in appropriate dosages. Scientific and clinical research indicates CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders in humans. There may be similar benefits for dogs. It may even have anti-cancer properties.
However Cannabis may also contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and high levels of THC can be potentially toxic or even fatal to pets.
THC Poisoning is No Joke
I have seen people on TV or in movies think it funny if their dog gets high on smoke or edibles but far from it. Three grams of THC per kilogram of a dog’s weight can apparently be a lethal dose, and smaller amounts can still be dangerous, triggering the nasty symptoms below, including discomfort, seizures and even comas.
If you know your dog has consumed weed, call your vet right away or the ASPCA emergency poison hotline at (888) 426-4435. (You may have to pay a $65 consultation fee but it was well worth it for me with the Kilo onion scare)
Once you see a vet or speak to the ASPCA, give them the following information:
4) What is your dog’s breed, size, weight, age and health.
They can then compare to other cases and research, and help you decide what you should do next.
Vets will usually try to induce vomiting in your dog to stop anything they’ve eaten getting into their system if you get them there soon enough (usually within 30 minutes). They will probably give them IV fluids to try to clear their system faster. It is also often recommended to give your dog activated charcoal and water. This was what we had to do when we took Kilo to the vet for eating a whole tray of chocolate brownies under the supervision of the vet.
If your dog is lethargic because the THC is already in his bloodstream, you should not try to induce vomiting because the dog could swallow it and asphyxiate. They will still probably give fluids and monitor them for seizures if they ate a lot.
Most dogs do well with the right treatment and recover from marijuana poisoning within 3-12 hours but it can stay in the system longer.
Even if weed is not legal where you live, you need to take your dog to a vet and the vet needs to know exactly what they might have in their system.
Accidents Happen But Take Precautions
I am sure we all intend to keep products that contain THC out of reach, but dogs can be curious and resourceful. Vets in Cities in the US where cannabis is legal are reported to be receiving lots of calls about dogs who have accidentally ingested it.
Dogs can steal cookies or brownies off the counter or out of a backpack left in reach or off a dining room table after dinner, or they can be around secondhand marijuana smoke or they could pick up a fallen joint or edible in a public space.
Imagine how toxic the chocolate brownies Kilo the Pug stole while my husband wasn’t looking or the onion quiche he stole off the counter would have been if they contained THC as well.
Be careful where weed and edibles are consumed, stored or discarded.
Keep vigilant on walks and in public spaces.
Do not smoke near your dog.
If you are worried your dog has consumed weed, here are some of the symptoms you should look for:
Sleepiness or excitation
Irregular or low heart rate
Low blood pressure
Low body temperature
Incontinence, uncontrolled dribbled urine
Loss of balance, difficulty walking, lack of control and coordination- they may look a little wobbly or “stoned”
Exaggerated response to any stimulus
While more severe signs include
Here is a handy Infographic to Save or Pin- you may wany to add emergency vet numbers.
Can cannabis kill my dog?
Yes, cannabis or marijuana could possibly kill your dog if they eat a large amount that contains high doses of THC and you do not get treatment. Three grams of THC per kilogram of a dog’s weight can apparently be a lethal dose. That is a LOT but smaller amounts can still be dangerous.
What about medical marijuana?
You may be wondering if medical marijuana could help your dog’s quality of life if they suffer from certain diseases, like it has for some people.
I have seen many positive stories on the use of CBD but THC could be scary for dogs.
The AMA says that cannabis’ effect on dogs needs further study before any can be prescribed as a way to manage a disease so be very careful risking it. Consult with your vet.
Has your dog ever got into something they shouldn’t have? Tell us in the comments.