Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
With the legalization of weed in several US states, cases of cannabis poisoning in dogs have skyrocketed. In fact, a recent report revealed a staggering 765% increase in calls about pets accidentally ingesting marijuana in 2019 compared to the previous year.
A survey conducted in 2021 found that out of 283 weed poisoning cases, dogs accounted for 226 (80%) of them. Given the high prevalence of marijuana poisoning in canines, it’s crucial for dog owners to educate themselves about the dangerous side effects of the plant on their furry friends.
Is Weed Bad for Dogs?
Yes, weed, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa, is bad for dogs. Also known as cannabis or marijuana, this plant contains over 40 chemicals called cannabinoids.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most potent compound in the weed, causing the strongest psychoactive effects.
In human medicine, marijuana can help reduce certain symptoms of cancer, such as nausea and inappetence. Many people use it for recreational purposes.
Unfortunately for dogs, the effects of weed can be disastrous to their system. Ingesting the plant or exposure to its smoke may result in poisoning.
Will Eating Weed Get Your Dog High?
Yes, eating weed will get your dog high, but it is not a pleasant experience. Compared to humans, canines possess more cannabinoid receptors in their brains. Thus, they are highly sensitive to the cannabinoid compounds in weed.
After eating marijuana, a stoned dog will not only feel high but may also begin to exhibit distressing abnormalities in his neural function.
How Much Weed Is Toxic to Dogs?
It takes a large amount of weed to cause life-threatening poisoning in dogs. According to a study, death can occur if canines ingest around 3 grams of THC per 2 pounds of body weight.
If you have a 10-pound dog, an intake of 15 grams of THC can lead to lethal weed poisoning. The marijuana dosage is not the only factor to consider. Your canine companion’s size also influences how severe the toxicity will be.
Miniature and small dog breeds are more susceptible to the harmful compounds of weed.
Minimal marijuana ingestion might not bring about symptoms of poisoning in large canines, but it can be enough to cause deadly adverse reactions in smaller pooches.
Symptoms of Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs
Concerned pet owners frequently bring up the question: “What are the symptoms of a dog eating weed?” Sedation, low heart rate, incontinence, and loss of coordination are the early symptoms of a dog eating weed.
Other clinical signs of weed poisoning in dogs to watch out for are:
- Lethargy or hyperactivity
- Mydriasis (Dilated pupils )
- Glassy eyes
- Sensitivity to touch and sounds
- Urinary incontinence
- Tremors or even seizures
How Long Until Weed Poisoning Symptoms Develop in Dogs?
Symptoms of toxicity will begin to manifest 30 to 60 minutes after your dog eats weed. In some cases, it can take around 90 minutes or so for them to appear.
The initial clinical signs tend to be mild, but they will gradually worsen as time passes. Thus, dogs that are high need immediate veterinary attention.
Although weed poisoning rarely leads to fatal consequences, late treatment badly affects the prognosis of a stoned dog’s condition.
What to Do If Your Dog Ate Weed
If your dog ate weed, the primary thing to do is to avoid panicking. Keep a clear head so you can provide proper support to your canine companion.
Marijuana poisoning is a frightening experience for him. Being calm will ease a bit of his fear and prevent him from becoming more distressed.
Here are the next steps you should take:
1. Determine the Type of Marijuana Consumed
Each part of the cannabis plant contains different concentrations of THC. Some parts are more poisonous than others. Moreover, do not forget that there are also marijuana-laced products. They contain varying amounts of THC too.
|Parts or Forms of Marijuana||Estimated THC Percentage
|Buds||10 to 12%|
|Leaves||1 to 2%|
|Stalks||0.1 to 0.3%|
|Roots||Less than 0.03%|
|Edibles||Up to 20%|
|Oil or Butter||Up to 90%|
Medical-grade marijuana is more concentrated with THC compared to regular weed. Fatalities caused by cannabis poisoning in dogs were rare until the existence of medical-grade cannabis.
A synthetic type of marijuana also exists, known as spice. Its other common street names are K-2, skunk, and moon rocks.
To create this type of weed, synthetic chemicals that mimic the psychoactive effects of THC are sprayed on the plant material.
Ingestion or exposure to synthetic weed induces more devastating and longer-lasting adverse reactions in canines.
2. Consider Other Ingredients
Some marijuana edibles contain other ingredients that are toxic to dogs. For instance, chocolate is an integral part of pot brownies.
Certain cannabis gummies use xylitol as an artificial sweetener. Both of these ingredients are extremely poisonous to canines.
So if you catch your dog eating weed edibles, check the product for other dangerous ingredients immediately.
Take note of all of these important details since they greatly help find the most appropriate treatment for your dog. Also include recording the time of the accident and the amount of marijuana ingested by your dog.
While collecting these crucial details, keep your pooch in a quiet area to reduce sensory stimulation caused by weed poisoning.
When Should I Get My Dog to the Vet?
If your dog has ingested weed, it’s important to act quickly and take them to the vet. The sooner you can get them there, the better chance they have of vomiting up the weed and preventing its absorption.
Keep an eye out for more severe clinical signs such as loss of consciousness, seizures, tremors, and difficulties swallowing, as these may require rushing your dog to the ER. Another indication of a worsening condition is an abnormal change in body temperature. Normally, a dog’s body temperature should be between 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius
If your canine companion’s rectal temperature goes below 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), emergency vet treatment is of the essence.
Be Transparent with the Vet
For many pawrents, it might be embarrassing to inform the vet that your dog accidentally consumed marijuana. Some fear that they may get reported to law enforcement if cannabis is deemed illegal in their area.
However, do not fret. The vet’s top priority is to provide the right treatment for your canine companion and stop the life-threatening side effects of weed poisoning.
So do not hesitate to tell them the truth about how your dog accidentally ingested cannabis.
What Tests Will the Vet Do?
Once you take your dog to the vet, certain tests, such as blood work and urinalysis will be run to assess the severity of your dog’s poisoning.
The results of these exams also provide information about your dog’s current state of health and the stability of organ functions.
To check for abnormal heart rates and possible arrhythmias in dogs experiencing cannabis intoxication, their blood pressure will be taken, as well as an ECG monitor.
If your dog ate marijuana edibles, he might need to undergo diagnostic imaging. This is done to check whether he ingested the product’s packaging, which might cause intestinal obstruction.
Treating a Dog That Ate Weed
The most common form of treatment if a dog eats weed is supportive care. The process usually entails carrying out the following:
1. Inducing vomiting within 1-2 hours of ingestion.
Emesis might be induced by your veterinarian with appropriate medication if the ingestion was within the last 2 hours. Then, the administration of activated charcoal will interrupt the enterohepatic recirculation of THC and reduce its half-life.
Eating or ingesting weed can either make your dog sleepy or hyperactive. If he falls under the second category, the vet will administer drugs to calm him down. It will make your dog more receptive to receiving treatment.
3. IV Fluid Therapy
To prevent damage to organs like the liver or kidneys, which metabolize the toxic and to accelerate detox of the bloodstream, IV fluid therapy will be used to replenish the electrolytes and water in your dog’s body.
This is especially important in cases of excessive vomiting due to marijuana toxicity, which can lead to dehydration. Antiemetic drugs may also be administered through the IV drip during this process.
To ease the specific symptoms of weed poisoning in dogs, various drugs may be prescribed. For example, antiarrhythmics may be given for irregular heart rate, anticonvulsants for seizures, gastric protectors for gastritis, and antiemetics for persistent nausea and vomiting.
Hospitalization is necessary if a dog eats weed for close monitoring. His blood pressure and oxygen levels will be regularly checked by the vet.
If breathing difficulties persist, he will be hooked to a ventilator. The onset of hypothermia requires thermoregulation.
Prognosis of Weed Poisoning in Dogs
Most canines can successfully recover from marijuana toxicity with the help of timely and appropriate treatment. Recovery time takes around 1 to 2 days for mild poisoning and 3 or more days for severe cases.
On the other hand, treating toxicity caused by synthetic weed takes much longer. So expect extended stays at the vet clinic or hospital.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Weed
The best way to keep your dog from accessing your stash of weed is to store cannabis products in an unreachable place. Put them on a high shelf or cabinet with a sturdy lock.
You should also talk to family members about the symptoms of marijuana poisoning in dogs. Make sure that all of them have the vet’s emergency contact number in case accidental cannabis ingestion occurs.
Take time to teach your dog the “leave it” or “drop it” command. It is very useful in preventing him from eating weed if he has already picked it up with his mouth.
FAQs About Weed Poisoning in Dogs
1. How Long Does Weed Stay in a Dog’s System?
Weed can stay in your dog’s system for about 24 hours. However, in some cases, it takes up to 3 or 4 days for the drug to wear off.
2. Should I Let My Dog Sleep If He Ate Weed?
While it’s generally okay to let your dog sleep if they’ve eaten weed in small amounts, it’s important to be aware that they may experience vomiting or urination between bouts of sleep, so it’s important to clean up any mess. However, it’s always safer for your dog to receive appropriate vet care in case of any complications.
3. Can I Give My Dog a Small Amount of Edibles?
Under no circumstances should you give your dog any amount of edibles. Doing so puts them at serious risk of poisoning, particularly if the product contains other toxic ingredients like chocolate or xylitol.
Keep in mind that the amount of THC can vary in edibles, but its concentrations can go up to 20%. That is already a lot, particularly for small dog breeds.
4. Can a Dog Survive Eating Edibles?
Yes, a dog can survive eating edible, but it will depend on many factors. These include the THC content of the product, the timeliness of treatment, and the amount of edibles he ingested.
The effects of synthetic weed on dogs can be severe and potentially life-threatening. While treatment for marijuana toxicity typically involves supportive care and monitoring, treating toxicity caused by synthetic weed can take much longer and require extended stays at the vet clinic or hospital.
As a responsible dog owner, it’s important to keep your pet safe and avoid exposing them to harmful substances. If you suspect your dog has ingested any drug, seek immediate veterinary attention.