You’re sitting in your living room, smoking pot and watching Planet Earth, when the doorbell rings. After you buy out the entire supply of your neighbor’s Girl Scout Cookies, you realize you left your new puppy unattended with your stash. There he is, wagging his tail and looking innocent as can be with a nearly empty bag of weed at his feet. You dread calling the veterinarian to explain that your puppy ate weed and you don’t know what to do. Take a deep breath – here’s what you need to know.
Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs
The first question to ask yourself if your dog ingested marijuana is – “Is marijuana toxic to dogs?” Marijuana’s toxic effects mainly come from a chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The question “how much is too much?” is impossible to answer at this time, given the fact that the amount of THC in most cannabis products is unknown, and no controlled studies have been done to define a lethal dose. Fortunately, we do know anecdotally that there is a very wide margin of safety for the consumption of THC in both people and dogs. That said, dogs are much more sensitive to THC than people, and the effects can be quite different from those seen in a happily stoned human being.
Effects of Weed on Dogs
THC may be consumed by dogs in the form of marijuana buds, edibles like pot brownies or weed cookies, live marijuana plants, or in concentrates like hash oil and wax. It takes approximately a half hour from consumption for the drug to take effect, and the effects can last for 72 hours. Just like in people, different dogs are affected by pot in different ways. For instance, approximately 25% of dogs become hyper excitable and anxious when intoxicated with marijuana products, while the majority becomes lethargic and depressed. If you want to know more about how to tell if your dog is high, check out the following list:
Marijuana Poisoning Symptoms
Lethargy or hyper excitability
Walking as if drunk
Slow heart rate
Hypothermia (low body temperature)
Can a Dog Die from Eating Weed?
While it is extremely uncommon for a dog to die from eating weed, it is still important to seek medical treatment right away. Without treatment, dogs can become very ill from dehydration, low blood sugar, and hypothermia. Your veterinarian will know how to keep your dog hydrated, safe, and warm while he comes down from his bad trip.
When to See a Vet Immediately
The most important thing to know, if your dog ate marijuana, is that your veterinarian is there to help you – without judgment. You will not be turned in to the police, and they will not take your dog from you. As a veterinarian myself, the last thing I want is for my clients to endanger their pets because they are afraid of what I will think about their recreational drug use. I can guarantee “My dog ate my weed brownie” is not the craziest story I have heard this week. I recommend you see a vet immediately any time you know of or suspect your dog consumed any amount of marijuana. If we are able to induce vomiting before the pot is digested (within 30 minutes), we could potentially prevent intoxication altogether, which is better for you dog AND your wallet.