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what if a dog eats weed

Your dog ate weed by accident. Now what?

A few years ago, my former housemate’s dog ate weed — a cannabis-infused brownie, to be exact. She connected the dots when she noticed her normally docile, sweet-natured chihuahua mix fearfully snapping at anyone within reach — and the disappearance of the weed brownie she had stashed in her purse. The high wore off eventually, and luckily, her pupper was just fine. But what exactly happens when your pet accidentally eats weed, and what’s the best way to handle it?

Amid the rising tide of cannabis legalization and growing acceptance of the substance overall, pet owners have probably begun asking themselves these questions more often. Indeed, there’s evidence to suggest these accidents might become more common. One study found that during a steep rise in medical marijuana registrations in Colorado between 2005 and 2010, marijuana toxicosis cases in dogs quadrupled at two veterinary hospitals in the state.

Dogs are far more likely than any other pet to eat your weed brownie, Steven Friedenberg, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, tells Mic. “We see dogs being a lot more curious about things and interested in eating everything than many other species.” Cats, on the other hand, tend to be much more finicky about what they eat.

If your doggo does get into your stash, it’ll take roughly 30 minutes to an hour for the weed to take effect, says Karl Jandrey, a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Intoxication in dogs looks similar, but not the same, as it does in their humans. Physically, they might have unusually dilated pupils, a slower heart rate, and difficulty walking, if they can walk at all. (In severe cases, they might just lie still.) They also often dribble urine uncontrollably. Behavior-wise, they tend to startle more easily and be warier of people they normally trust.

This heightened apprehension might explain why eating a weed brownie made my old housemate’s dog so aggro, although Jandrey notes it’s more common for weed to result in a general lethargy. But chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, can cause agitation, Friedenberg says — so the chocolate in the brownie might have played a role.

It also matters whether your Very Good (but very high) Boy or Girl ingested an edible versus flower. Since, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main inebriating compound in marijuana) is fat-soluble, a stick of weed butter or a brownie has a higher concentration of THC than an equivalent volume of, say, THC-infused seltzer — and will therefore mess up your pet more, according to Friedenberg. Size matters, too. “The smaller the animal, the more toxic,” Jandrey says. In other words, a weed brownie would probably have a smaller effect on a Great Dane than it did on my former housemate’s smol chihuahua mix.

Dogs have the ability to recycle a class of compounds called cannabinoids, which includes THC, in weed. When the dog eats their next meal, the bile gets secreted back into the intestines, basically re-exposing the them to the cannabinoids.

The effects of an edible high usually last for around 18 to 24 hours in dogs, Jandrey says; in humans, they last for only up to 12 hours, according to Harvard Health. Jandrey explains that dogs have the ability to recycle a class of compounds called cannabinoids, which includes THC, in weed. The cannabinoids get absorbed through the gut and later stored in the bile, important for digesting fats. When the dog eats their next meal, the bile gets secreted back into the intestines, basically re-exposing the them to the cannabinoids.

Dogs usually just sleep off the weed, Friedenberg says, but there have been some case reports of dogs dying from eating weed or weed-laden products. (The study of the Colorado veterinary hospitals reported the deaths of two dogs that had eaten weed butter in baked products.) Most were small dogs that consumed extremely high doses, which can cause respiratory depression, or slow, insufficient breathing. Friedenberg says such cases are rare, though.

So how do you know if you should take your fur baby to the doc, or if they’ll be fine riding it out at home? “I think for the most part, if you’re concerned about your animal’s health at all and not sure what’s going on, the best thing to do is bring your dog to a veterinarian,” Friedenberg says. Let your vet know if you’re concerned that your pupper got a hold of your weed, so they actually know what your dog is dealing with and don’t run tests for a totally different condition. If you’re worried about the legal repercussions, Friedenberg says your vet probably won’t care.

If you’re comfortable with your dog being mildly affected — “a little wobbly, a little incontinent” — but mostly okay, and their symptoms don’t worsen, they probably don’t need veterinary attention, Jandrey says. Just make sure they’re eating and drinking normally, Friedenberg adds.

But if your doggo’s symptoms worsen within an hour or two of you first noticing them, get to a vet, since they could worsen even further over the next few hours, Jandrey says. And if your dog is hard to rouse, or you struggle to get them to walk, Friedenberg suggests going to the hospital, where they’ll likely be given an intravenous lipid solution that can help absorb THC in the bloodstream. Head to the ER if you have a small dog you suspect has eaten a high dose of weed.

To keep your pets from getting their paws on your weed in the first place, store it in a medicine cabinet, on a high shelf, or other hard-to-access spot, Friedenberg says. Take these precautions before you become impaired, rather than passing out and waking up to find your dog scarfed down the gummies you left on the counter in your edible-induced haze. Or, if you dog already tends to misbehave in general, consider keeping them crated when you’re not at home.

Since dogs will eat anything, even stuff you wouldn’t consider edible, remember to keep all cannabis products out of their reach. Jandrey recently treated a small dog that ate six joints, sneaking them from the coffee able while their human had some friends over to smoke. “You can never predict what an animal will do,” he says. They may not even be hungry, just inquisitive.

Basically, safeguard your pets from weed as you would kids from medications, Jandrey says. Seeing your fur baby high can be scary, but if they do get to your stash, they’ll probably emerge on the other side just fine, like my old housemate’s dog, even if it takes a couple of hours.

This article was originally published on November 4, 2019

A few years ago, my former housemate’s dog ate weed — a cannabis-infused brownie, to be exact. She connected the dots when she noticed her normally docile, sweet-natured chihuahua mix fearfully snapping at anyone within reach — and the disappearance…

Education

What To Do When Your Dog Eats Weed

Cannabis is great and dogs are awesome. It’s simply a fact. That being said, weed is for humans only (just in case you weren’t sure). However, accidents do happen and we’re here to help. If your dog ate weed or if you’re a cannabis-loving dog owner, this article provides relevant answers to commonly asked questions about dogs and marijuana. Can dogs get high? Can dogs eat weed? Does marijuana hurt dogs? How does weed affect dogs? Should you take your dog to the vet? These are all great questions, and knowing the answers may prevent your furry friend from finding itself in an unfortunate situation. Read ahead to learn more about what happens if your dog eats weed.

Can Dogs Get High From Eating Weed?

Yes, if your dog ate marijuana, they will likely get high. Here are a few tell-tale symptoms to help you identify if your dog has ingested cannabis:

  • Unsteady movements and an unstable balance
  • Confused look and dazed eyes
  • Nervousness and paranoia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Low temperature and heart rate
  • Dribbling urine

Is Weed Bad For Dogs?

While a stoned dog might sound like an entertaining experiment, marijuana definitely falls under the category of what not to feed your dog. If you’ve thought about giving marijuana to dog friends, please don’t. Dogs and weed do not mix. Unlike humans, THC is poisonous to many animals and the effects of marijuana on dogs can often cause distress and be downright harmful. Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors than humans do, which means they feel the effects much more intensely.

If you’re looking for medical supplements for your dog, consider asking your vet about CBD products. Although marijuana is bad for dogs, CBD has not proven harmful and may even be beneficial to your pets who suffer from anxiety, pain, etc.

Can Weed Kill A Dog?

Marijuana alone has not proven to be lethal if ingested by a dog. However, there are at least two scenarios that may prove deadly to your dog if it eats weed:

If Your Dog Gets Too High Alone

When a dog ingests cannabis, the effects will last roughly 24 hours before wearing off completely. During that time, a dog might become extremely affected by the THC. Marijuana toxicity in dogs may cause them to throw up; and if your dog is too high, they may fatally choke on their own vomit. It’s critical to your dog’s health that you never leave it alone if it eats any form of cannabis!

If Your Dog Ate Edible Brownies

There is a large list of foods dogs should not eat which includes chocolate, alcohol, citrus, caffeine, nuts, undercooked meat and yeast dough. Like flower or other forms of cannabis, edibles are unhealthy for pets to eat. However, they can be especially dangerous because of other potential ingredients. If your dog ate edible brownies or some other combination of weed and chocolate, there is a chance the combination may prove fatal.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Marijuana?

If your dog is showing any symptoms of having eaten weed, the first thing you should do is call your local veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center. You will find our recommended response below, but it’s only meant to help guide you through making sure your pet is safe as possible – it cannot replace a professional’s medical opinion.

When you first realize your dog has probably eaten marijuana, follow these steps as rationally as possible:

Stay Calm

Your dog is likely going to be okay but still needs your help. Therefore, it’s important that you keep a level head and follow through with the rest of these steps. If you happen to be high, try to remain focused and avoid any distractions.

Call Your Veterinarian, Local Animal ER or the Animal Poison Control Center

As stated above, the first action you should take is to call a professional. Trained veterinarians will know whether or not you need to bring your dog in and can give you guidance through the process. Vets also aren’t obligated to report marijuana ingestion to police, so you don’t have to worry about getting in trouble. Note that most animal hospitals or animal ERs will make you bring your pet in to see them (as they won’t be able to make a diagnosis over the phone), so be prepared to get in the car quickly.

Evaluate the Symptoms

If you think or know your dog has ingested some form of THC, check for any noticeable symptoms. This will help professionals determine the toxicity levels and relevant dangers. Even if your dog is not yet showing any side effects, make sure you’ve called a vet and proceed to the next steps.

Determine How Much and What Type of Weed Your Dog Ate

Did your dog get into your stash and eat edibles, flower, concentrate, etc? Are you not sure where the weed came from? Are you unable to determine how much was ingested or whether or not it was actually weed?

The more details a vet knows about your dog’s THC consumption, the better. Since this is critical to your dog’s health, be honest and upfront with the veterinarian when describing what was eaten. Depending on your dog’s size, the concentration of THC consumed could prove very dangerous.

Drive Your Animal To A Professional For Evaluation

This step is critical if the symptoms are already noticeable, if you have a smaller dog, or if your dog ate edibles or other food with additionally harmful ingredients (like chocolate). Immediately get your dog to the nearest professional for help.

If You Can’t See a Veterinarian, Wait It Out

As scary as it is, these situations often come down to a waiting game. The best thing to do is to stay calm and provide as much support to your dog as possible. Petting him/her, sitting next to them, talking to them, etc. are wonderful ways to show love. Continuously check to see if your dog’s eyes are dilated or if breathing patterns change, which may mean staying awake with your pet throughout the entirety of the night. If your dog hasn’t had water in a while (which is a large danger), try small ice chips around their gums or provide more enticing liquids like chicken or beef broth. From personal experience, the latter works wonders!

How Should You Store Your Cannabis?

As more states continue to legalize cannabis, reports of dogs and THC related veterinary visits are increasing. Try to avoid adding to this unfortunate statistic by thoughtfully storing your stash in a place your dog won’t be able to sniff it out and snarf it down. Here are some foolproof tips for storing your cannabis:

  • Always keep your weed in a durable, lockable container. Not only will this keep your weed fresh and the smell contained, but it acts as a second round of protection in case your dog still manages to find it.
  • Store your stash up in high locations, like in kitchen or bathroom cabinets.
  • If you don’t want cannabis in your house and live in a state where weed is legalized, placing it in the trunk of your car satisfies most state laws.

If you’re reading through this article, chances are high that you’re a cannabis enthusiast. If we’ve helped you learn about dogs and marijuana, let us also help you find a local dispensary you can trust. If you’ve got a safe place to stash weed, you should probably make sure you’ve got some quality product to actually store. Visit our website to learn more about the cannabis industry and reputable dispensaries near you.

Has your pet consumed weed? If so, what happened and what did you do to make them feel better? Please leave your own tips in the comments below to help other readers in the future!

Cannabis is great and dogs are awesome. It’s simply a fact. That being said, weed is for humans only (just in case you weren’t sure). However, accidents do happen and we’re here to help. If your dog ate weed or if you’re a cannabis-loving dog owner, this article provides relevant answers to commonly asked questions about dogs and marijuana. Can dog