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If Your Pet Has Ingested Cannabis, Do This First

Posted by Glassheads Collaborator on

*Note: This article refers to cannabis with THC only; there are many products on the market containing CBD that are safe and healthy for your pet.

It happens: You left your stash of edibles, concentrates or weed somewhere accessible, and your pet ate it.

Do this first:

  • Relax. Almost all cases of animal cannabis consumption are non-lethal, and panicking could further upset your pet.

  • Move your pet to a safe, comfortable location.

  • Assess the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation).

  • Assess symptoms for toxicosis (see below).

  • If showing signs of toxicosis, get the animal to a vet ASAP.

  • Do NOT give any home antidotes.

  • Do NOT induce vomiting without checking with a vet or Pet Poison Helpline.

  • Call your vet or 855-764-7661 for licensed consultation ($59 fee).

    How Pot Affects Dogs

    When it comes to your pooch and pot, if you take simple steps, you’ll never have to go through the potential nightmare of a doggie overdose. Although rare, marijuana toxicosis in dogs acts like a poison and can have lethal results.

    “Marijuana overdoses are very, very common and deaths are very, very rare,” says Dr. Baker of the Pet Poison Helpline. “But even without deaths, a dog will probably need medical attention to recover from marijuana poisoning.”

    Dogs can have a severe reaction (toxicosis) from eating your stash, your edibles, inhaling smoke, or ingesting poorly disposed of remnants.

    “Dogs will eat anything,” says Baker. “They are not discerning at all. So if you’re going to have substances that can potentially harm an animal, make sure everything is properly stored in airtight containers dogs can’t get into.”

    Important Note: A study conducted in Colorado to determine how legal cannabis affected reported canine marijuana toxicosis found a four-fold increase in reported cases. The PPH has seen a 448% increase in cannabis toxicology cases over the past six years, the majority involving dogs or cats ingesting cannabis-laced food products.

    “It’s probably due to so many edible products now on the market that there’s been a spike in poisonings,” said Baker. “A dog may have no interest in dry marijuana, but will eat anything edible. They don’t have the self control to stop at one, so they can easily eat enough edibles to poison themselves.”


    What Does Cannabis Toxicosis Look Like in Dogs?

    For the most part, if your dog only less than 1mg of THC, it will probably sleep it off in a few hours. Note: In about 25 percent of animals, cannabis injestion can result in behavior that looks like excitement and/or agitation.

    Extreme reactions to watch for:

    • Severe depression

    • Walking “drunkenly”

    • Poor coordination

    • Lethargy

    • Coma

    • Low heart rate

    • Low blood pressure

    • Respiratory depression

    • Dilated pupils

    • Coma

    • Hyperactivity

    • Vocalization

    • Seizures


    Weed Affects Dogs Differently Than Humans

    Dogs have a higher concentration of cannabinoid receptors in their brains compared to humans. This means they could much more easily feel disorienting, hallucinogenic effects and potential toxicity compared to a human experience.

    While there have been no deaths reported to the Pet Poison Helpline in the last five years, poisonings spiked with the advent of recreational cannabis legalization.

    “It’s the most significant increase we have ever seen,” says Baker. “It’s really evident in states where pot is legal, but we get calls from all over the country.”

    Edibles can be especially dangerous because of concentrated levels of THC compared to dry weed. And while cannabis has a “wide margin of safety,” an edible meant for humans can deliver a huge dose, especially when dealing with concentrated THC.

    Dogs have no control over eating when something tastes good, so properly storing all forms of cannabis out of a dog’s reach is essential.


    Keep it Real

    Many who face a poisoning situation with their pet may find it hard to be honest with a vet for fear of being turned into the police. But don’t worry: The Pet Poison Helpline, the ASPCA Poison Control Center and even your local vet won’t narc on you. Their first priority is the animal’s well-being, so be completely honest. That way the dog can get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

    Most times cannabis toxicosis requires evaluation and supportive care. On average, it means 18-36 hours of rest. But cases requiring medical treatment can include IV fluids, oxygen, blood pressure monitoring, anti-nausea medication, thermoregulation, and in serious situations, a ventilator or other respiratory support. 

    Over-the-counter drug tests designed for humans have been used to home-diagnose exposure to weed. It should be noted that while dogs do exhibit cannabinoids in urine, false positives happen all the time throwing off the validity of the test. While a positive result could mean cannabis exposure, a negative result doesn’t mean poisoning can be ruled out.


    Dank for Dogs: Not Cool

    The bottom line when it comes to cannabis and canines, is that it is NOT OK to get a dog high, whether it’s accidental or intentional. A human dose affects dogs far differently and much more intensely, whether it’s smoke in the face or ingested THC via edibles.

    Yes, there are cannabis treatments being used for animals, but these are made for dogs and do not deliver a terrifying experience as an overdose. For your state of mind and your pet’s well being, always keep all cannabis products stored in airtight containers, far away from where your dog can them.

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