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Is weed toxic to dogs?

Dogs are notorious for eating things that they shouldn’t, whether it’s something that they pick up from a walk or something they search out of a hiding spot somewhere in the house. It’s not uncommon for us to see clinical cases of dogs that have been affected by cannabis. Most cases involve ingestion, either due to direct consumption of the drug or a marijuana-infused edible.

But dogs can even potentially be affected by inhaling smoke second-hand if they are in the same room as a user.

Cannabinoids are the chemicals found in marijuana, one of which (THC) is primarily responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects in dogs and humans.

Dogs’ brains have more cannabinoid receptors than humans’, so marijuana tends to affect a dog more than it would for a human of the same size (and most dogs are smaller than humans, so a human-sized dose can be that much more severe).

What are the signs of marijuana toxicity in dogs?

The effects of marijuana will depend on the dose, the size of the dog, and the way the chemical interacts with the dog’s specific body chemistry.

In general, signs of marijuana intoxication will occur within two hours after exposure and include increased sensitivity to light, sound, and motion; glassy eyes; vomiting; disorientation; uncontrolled urination; lethargy; and unsteadiness or lack of coordination. Severe cases may result in seizures or coma.

Can dogs get high?

Some of the signs of marijuana intoxication oerlap between dogs and humans.

– Dilated pupils
– Lethargy
– Changes to movement

A characteristic near-stumble with a just-in-time catch that you can see in the clip here, are all signs of cannabis poisoning in dogs.  

What should I do if my dog eats marijuana?

If you know or strongly suspect your dog has consumed cannabis, you should call your daytime or emergency vet right away. The severity of the effects will vary based on your dog, how much they consumed, and what else they might be affected by (for example, a dog that has eaten a pot brownie will need to be treated for both marijuana and chocolate toxicity).

As with all toxicity cases, the sooner you can get help the better your pet’s outcome will be. Unlike some toxicity cases, inducing vomiting is not usually recommended for marijuana ingestion. Always follow your vet’s guidance.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to find marijuana outside the home, and owners won’t always notice everything their dog scarfs down on a walk. It’s important to be aware of the signs of marijuana poisoning so that you can recognise it in your dog even if you aren’t sure whether they consumed any of the drug.

What will the vet do if my dog has eaten marijuana?

Depending on the symptoms that your dog is displaying, the vet will recommend a course of supportive treatment that may include supportive care and ongoing monitoring of vital signs, intravenous hydration, and potentially activated charcoal to absorb as much toxicity as possible.

Will I get in trouble if my dog has eaten weed?

Whilst cannabis use and possession is illegal in the UK, your vets are only interested in making sure that your pet gets and stays healthy.

To give your pet the best chance of recovery without long-term harm, you must be honest and thorough with your vet about what, when and how much your dog has consumed so they can chart the best course of treatment.

Deliberately hiding information about your pet’s health when it could be lifesaving is a far greater crime in the eyes of vets, and much more likely to lead to you getting into trouble.

How can I prevent my dog from eating marijuana?

Any substances that might be toxic for dogs should be stored very safely away from where curious canines might find them, and friends and visitors to the household should be aware that marijuana can be dangerous for dogs (even as second-hand smoke).

When out on walks, be vigilant about anything your dog might be picking up off the ground, especially in areas where marijuana use might be more prevalent. For some dogs that are indiscriminate scavengers, a muzzle might be helpful for reassurance that they won’t snaffle up something toxic or damaging.

If you are concerned that your dog might be displaying signs of poisoning, contact your daytime vet, our Video Vets Now telehealth service, or if out-of-hours, your nearest Vets Now clinic.