Imagine this. You’re relaxing at home and you see your furry friend behaving really weird. You glance at the table and see that the plate of weed brownies is empty. And panic ensues momentarily.
If you’re a dog owner and a cannabis consumer, this scenario might have happened to you at one time or another. As the cannabis industry grows, this problem has become very common as the Animal Poison Control Center part of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) noted that calls about marijuana ingestion by animals have increased about 765% in 2019. Moreover, the Pet Poison Helpline reported an increase in pet marijuana consumption cases of 448%, and synthetic cannabis toxicity can be even worse for our furry friends.
For that reason, we’re going over all the details concerning weed consumption by dogs and how it can affect them, as well as what you can do on the occasion of your dog accidentally getting into your edibles.
Does Cannabis Affect Dogs?
First things first, cannabis and cannabis products affect dogs differently compared to people. Even though dogs have an endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors, they’re easily affected by weed.
Similar to humans, dogs too can have psychoactive effects from consuming weed. As a result of their smaller size, they can experience more intense psychological changes from only a small dose of cannabis which could be toxic to them.
An article by a veterinary information specialist even stated that dogs can be poisoned by cannabis by inhaling secondhand smoke, ingesting marijuana edibles, or even ingesting the whole bud. Dog owners who use weed need to know the signs of cannabis toxicity in order to be able to help their pets.
THC vs CBD
Cannabis plants have a whole array of cannabinoids out of which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most important ones. Similar to what happens with people, THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the body and causes a psychoactive high in dogs. Compared to people, dogs that have consumed cannabis can even have toxic effects from consuming the drug. So, let’s get into what can happen to your dog if it eats cannabis.
What Can Happen if Your Dog Eats Cannabis?
A few studies have been done on the subject of accidental ingestion of cannabis products by dogs. And as the legalization of marijuana for medical use has started to spread, so has marijuana toxicosis in dogs. Veterinary hospitals have noticed a huge increase in dogs being taken to the vet as a result of marijuana toxicity.
Since dogs have a higher percent of cannabinoid receptors in their body compared to people, it’s logical that they would be more susceptible to it. While the effects of marijuana on dogs aren’t generally life-threatening, they mustn’t be ignored.
Keep in mind that the minimum THC dose for dogs that can be lethal is more than 3g per 2 pounds of your dog’s weight. If your dog has consumed a dose this high, you must act immediately.
What to Do if My Dog Ate Weed?
If you’ve noticed that your dog is acting weird and you suspect cannabis toxicity, you’ll need to follow a few steps in order to help your furry friend the best way you can. But, before you do anything, you must remain calm, as panicking won’t benefit either you or your pet.
The Signs of Marijuana Toxicity
No matter how big or small the dose of cannabis that your dog has ingested, you should immediately call a vet. Next, you should check for these common signs of marijuana poisoning and see if your dog exhibits any of them:
- Increased heart rate;
- Body temperature changes;
- Dilated pupils;
- Disorientation or uncoordinated movements;
- Excessive drooling or vomiting;
- Urinary incontinence;
- Lethargy or hyperactivity;
- Breathing problems;
- Variations in blood pressure.
In general, these symptoms tend to go away after an hour or two, and the first thing you can do is evaluate the gravity of the situation. Some of these symptoms are more serious than others, and if you see your dog experiencing a few of them, contact a vet immediately so your furry friend can get the supportive care it needs. Meanwhile, give your dog plenty of water to maintain optimal hydration levels.
However, if your dog exhibits symptoms like seizures, tremors, or a coma, it may indicate a more serious manifestation of marijuana poisoning. Also, doses of medical marijuana are generally higher, so even if your dog consumes only a small amount, it may be a huge problem. In that case, get your dog to an emergency vet at once.
Respond Quickly and Induce Vomiting
For pet owners who have witnessed their dog consuming edibles, you need to act not later than 15 minutes after ingestion and try to induce vomiting in order to get rid of the weed from your dog’s system. One way you could go about it is by administering a teaspoon of 35 hydrogen peroxide orally for every 10 pounds of your dog’s weight.
Bear in mind that sugar and sugar substitutes that can be found in cannabis edibles like Xylitol, can result in life-threatening toxicoses in dogs.
Take Your Dog to an Emergency Vet Hospital
If you didn’t manage to induce vomiting, you should immediately take your dog to a veterinary hospital. As a dog owner, you’re responsible for the well-being of your pet, so the best thing you can do is explain the situation to a vet who is licensed to help your dog get better. They can give your dog some IV fluids and maybe even some sedative medication to help your dog better cope with the situation.
Medical Marijuana for Dogs
While consuming THC might be pretty serious for your dog, not all cannabinoids are bad for your pet. CBD can be prescribed for dogs to treat a whole array of medical problems, and proper doses depend on the weight of your dog, as well as the condition it’s being treated for.
According to this study done by the Department of Pharmacy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, dogs can be treated with CBD for conditions like epilepsy, arthritis, anxiety, and others.
Don’t forget that some CBD medications may have trace amounts of THC, which can result in the previously mentioned side effects. Also, ask a professional to help you with the proper dose that meets the requirements of your dog, and don’t go over it.
Final Thoughts on Dogs Consuming Cannabis
High doses of cannabis can induce a life-threatening coma in dogs, therefore edibles or other forms of decarbed marijuana should never be left at your dog’s reach. While marijuana toxicity is rarely fatal in dogs, it can happen.
We know that every dog owner just wants the best for their pet, so if any incident happens where your dog consumes huge amounts of weed, don’t hesitate to contact your vet who will make sure your dog bounces back in no time.