Pets and Cannabis Toxicity

April 20, 2023

It is quite common for dogs, and even cats, to stumble across an edible cannabis stash. In some cases, small doses may simply lead to drowsiness and sleep. But, if your pet ingests a larger dose, it is time to visit your vet.

Marijuana is dangerous for dogs because they are hypersensitive to THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient. When a dog ingests marijuana, the THC compound binds to the brain’s CB1 receptors, causing the “high” that smokers are looking to achieve. But in dogs, those intoxicating effects are amplified and can lead to marijuana toxicity.

What Happens If Your Dog Eats Marijuana?

Cannabis affects different dogs in different ways; variables such as age, health status and body size all influence the outcome. While rarely fatal, eating or inhaling THC can cause some dogs to become seriously sick. Owners can also experience a lot of worry after seeing a shift in their dog’s behavior if they become stoned. So, what should you do if your dog gets high?

Signs Your Dog Has Eaten Weed

If your dog gets high, you might notice a change in behavior and several key signs including:

  • Twitching and tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Involuntary urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Coma

If you suspect that your pet has ingested or inhaled marijuana, seek veterinary care immediately. Treatment may involve medically induced vomiting, administering activated charcoal, or providing supportive care to manage symptoms.

Keeping Cannabis Away from Your Pets

The easiest way to prevent your dog or cat from ingesting THC is by eliminating any potential exposure. Smoking in a different room and securely storing cannabis will minimize access. If you are growing indoors, secure your grow room to prevent your pets from entering and potentially chowing down on leaves and flowers. If you are growing outdoors, secure your garden with fencing.

What About CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) can be useful for reducing anxiety and chronic pain in pets. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, and is safe and effective for dogs with joint pain or geriatric soreness. It is important, however, that any CBD product be administered with veterinary approval and guidance.

Always Seek Veterinary Advice

Regardless of how your dog’s marijuana ingestion occurs, you should always seek veterinary advice. “Because the potency of marijuana is variable and the amount in edibles is not regulated, it is very hard to know exactly how much a dog has ingested,” explains AMCMA Director Dr. Nicole Fulcher. “We also do not know a toxic or fatal dose when inhaled or ingested, so it is always best to have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian.”

Looking for a Vet?

Our Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has two locations and provides services ranging from regular wellness visits to integrated pain management, spay/neuter services to diagnostics and surgery.