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Can Dogs Get High? What Marijuana Can Do to Your Dog

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

Husky dog sniffing a leaf of marijuana_Anton Watman_shutterstock

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Dr. Amanda Charles

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While the market for CBD pet products is growing, it’s important to remember that not all cannabis products are safe for dogs. Dogs can get intoxicated by marijuana, and it’s not a pleasant experience for them. The experience can be very uncomfortable and can get worse if they’ve ingested other harmful ingredients mixed with edibles, like sugar or xylitol.

It’s important to stay well-informed as the increased accessibility to marijuana is also showing an increase in reported cases of marijuana toxicosis in dogs. The Animal Poison Control Center saw a 765% increase in marijuana toxicosis calls in 2019 when compared to 2018. So, here’s what you need to know to prevent your dog from experiencing marijuana toxicosis.


Dogs and Marijuana Toxicosis

Dogs are much more sensitive to marijuana than humans because they have more cannabidiol receptors in their brains 1. So, small amounts of cannabis can cause dogs to experience marijuana toxicosis. Dogs mostly ingest cannabis by snooping around and finding edibles, e.g. baked goods containing cannabis. However, they can also get sick by inhaling second-hand smoke.

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Signs of Marijuana Toxicosis

Fortunately, most cases of marijuana toxicosis aren’t fatal. Causes of death are often attributed to other harmful ingredients found in edibles, like chocolate or artificial sweeteners like xylitol. However, it’s still best to take your dog to your veterinarian if he’s experiencing marijuana toxicosis.

Marijuana will affect each dog differently. Most dogs may act more drowsy or lethargic, while others will be more hyperactive. Other signs of marijuana toxicosis include imbalanced gait, lack of coordination, dilated pupils, excessive drooling and urinary incontinence. Dogs can also vomit, and more severe cases can involve tremors and seizures.

sick chihuahua dog lying on a rug
Image Credit: Zozz_, PixabaY

What to Do If Your Dog Consumes Marijuana

Make sure to contact an animal poison control hotline or your veterinarian to treat your dog, especially if your dog ingested an edible. Helpful information to give your veterinarian includes the dosage or amount consumed, how your dog consumed it, and any medical issues your dog has.

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your dog’s condition. In milder cases, your veterinarian may recommend an outpatient treatment plan, while more intense cases will require an overnight stay.

Your dog may need to take anti-nausea medication and be given IV fluids if he’s dehydrated. In more severe cases, your dog’s stomach may need to be pumped. Your veterinarian may also give your dog activated charcoal to help bind with the toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and prevent absorption into the body.

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Difference Between CBD and THC

Both CBD and THC come from the same plant—cannabis. Cannabis produces cannabinoids, which contain over 100 different chemicals, including CBD and THC. Hemp contains more CBD and less THC, while marijuana contains more THC and less CBD. THC is the main psychoactive component that’s used in marijuana products and is responsible for people feeling “high.” CBD has a reputation for helping with certain health issues, like chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety. The FDA has approved one CBD-based drug (Epidiolex) as a treatment for certain rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy. However, most of these claims require more research to determine exactly how effective CBD is in alleviating certain symptoms and health conditions.

In general, cannabis must consist of less than 0.3% THC in order to be considered hemp. In most cases, CBD pet products are created by using hemp. So, they don’t contain THC or have such low traces of it that pets aren’t affected by it.

Worker holding marijuana hemp
Image Credit: OSJPHOTO_Shutterstock

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Dogs don’t have a good experience if they consume or ingest marijuana. They’ll experience marijuana toxicosis and will require a visit to your veterinarian for treatment. So, it’s important to keep these products locked away in a safe and unreachable location. If you’re interested in introducing your dog to CBD pet products, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Together, you can determine if they’re safe for your dog and if your dog will benefit from them.

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Featured Image Credit: Anton Watman, Shutterstock

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