Is Marijuana Bad for Dogs?

Sick-looking dog resting head on pillow.

Can dogs get high on marijuana? Is weed bad for dogs? What should you do if your dog gets into "someone else's" pot?

Regardless of your unique lifestyle, knowing the answers to these questions is critical as a dog owner. If your dog comes into contact with cannabis, be prepared to respond. This is particularly significant as more and more states in the United States legalize marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use.

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is the most widely used illicit substance in the United States. The substance is considered enjoyable, innocuous, and helpful by fans. There is a huge push to legalize marijuana, and many people feel that greater study into its potential therapeutic purposes should be done. As a result of all of this, the number of dogs exposed to marijuana, both accidentally and intentionally, has increased.

How Marijuana Affects Dogs

Intoxication symptoms in marijuana are comparable to those found in people. Dogs can be exposed to marijuana either inhaling secondhand smoke or ingesting the substance. If the dried leaves, or "buds," of the plant are left within reach, they may locate and devour them. Ingestion of "edibles," such as baked products containing marijuana, is the most prevalent method of exposure. Brownies, cookies, muffins, chocolate, and a variety of other delicacies are becoming increasingly popular.

Warning

Many human meals alone represent a significant toxicity risk to dogs. Adding cannabis to the mix simply amplifies their toxicity. Furthermore, delicacies are created in tiny quantities for human consumption. A dog can devour a whole pan of "special" brownies in less than a minute. You're dealing with a sick, stoned dog before you realize it.

Unsafe Amount of Marijuana

The impact of marijuana on dogs varies depending on the dog's size and the amount consumed. Post-ingestion symptoms usually develop 30 to 60 minutes after eating. In dogs, however, symptoms might linger considerably longer. A dog's recovery from the effects of cannabis intake might take anywhere from 18 to 36 hours. Marijuana poisoning, however, is unlikely to result in death, especially if competent medical treatment is received.

Common signs of marijuana toxicity in dogs include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Stumbling/difficulty walking/drunkenness (ataxia)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Glass-eyed or dazed appearance
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation and/or excitement

In severe cases, dogs may experience one or more of the following signs:

  • Seizures/tremors
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Respiratory issues (often slowed breathing)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Coma
  • Death (rare but more likely with medical-grade THC)

What to Do If Your Pet Is Exposed to Marijuana

Marijuana poisoning is seldom deadly, although it does necessitate medical treatment. If you believe your dog has been exposed to marijuana, contact your veterinarian. Do not be hesitant to inform your veterinarian how much and when your dog got into. If your dog has been exposed to marijuana, don't be deceived by the drug's safety margin.

To reduce symptoms, marijuana toxicity is usually treated with supportive treatment. Whether the dog ate chocolate or similar hazardous food, your veterinarian may need to perform lab testing to see if there are any systemic consequences. In addition, high-fat diet can cause secondary disorders in dogs, such as pancreatitis.

Tip

Are you concerned about getting into legal trouble? Accidental exposure does not compel veterinarians to contact the police. Unless they suspect abuse or neglect, they are reluctant to call authorities (in which case they are obligated to report). Your veterinarian just wants to assist and protect your dog. Tell them it belongs to "a buddy" who left the medicine nearby if necessary. Simply tell your vet the truth. Tell your veterinarian how much and when so that they can provide appropriate medical care.

Getting Dogs High for Fun

Unfortunately, there are folks who get their dogs high and then publish recordings for laughs. Never offer your pet marijuana on purpose. Getting an animal high is neither ethical nor enjoyable. An animal cannot comprehend the situation and, therefore, cannot consent to it. When an animal is high, it might become confused and nervous. These dogs may not be able to express their emotions, but it does not mean they are not in pain. Getting your pet high is cruel. Getting a little child high is just as bad.

Medical Marijuana for Dogs

If your dog is suffering from a medical ailment (pain, anxiety, etc. ), you may be tempted to medicate him with marijuana to relieve his symptoms, especially if he has a chronic, severe, and/or deadly condition. Just because you believe it would be beneficial does not guarantee it is a good idea. You could cause more damage than good.

There is still a lot of study to be done on the therapeutic and medical uses of marijuana in general, and considerably more research for veterinary usage. Medical marijuana has been proved to be extremely beneficial for a variety of ailments, including epilepsy, arthritis, anxiety, cancer, and more. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis substance that lacks tetrahydrocannabinol (the THC is what gets one "high"). CBD has been medically supplied to children in places where it is allowed, and has demonstrated to be useful for a variety of health concerns. However, proof of its usefulness in pets is currently just anecdotal. To cure whatever ailment your pet is suffering from, the best option is to stick with one of the already accessible drugs.

It's also crucial to note that because marijuana remains a DEA schedule 1 substance, veterinarians are not permitted to prescribe any form or derivative of the drug (and therefore is illegal on a federal level regardless of the state). Furthermore, there is insufficient research or testing to identify safe and therapeutic CBD and/or THC levels in dogs.

Fortunately, this is a rapidly developing field of study. There's a strong possibility we'll find safe and effective ways to utilize medical marijuana in pets as laws, perceptions, and science improve. Meanwhile, don't take any chances. Unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise, keep marijuana in any form away from your dog.

CITATION

"Silver, Robert. “The Endocannabinoid System of Animals.” MDPI, www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/9/686. Accessed 9 May 2022.", "Gemma, Johnstone. "Marijuana Poisoning In Dogs: Cannabis Intoxication In Pets". American Kennel Club, 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/marijuana-poisoning-in-dogs/.", "Cannabis use and pets. American Veterinary Medical Foundation." ;

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