Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs: What To Do If Your Dog Ate Weed · The Wildest

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My Dog Ate Weed: What Should I Do?

If you think your dog ate marijuana, here are the signs to look out for.

by Dr. Shea Cox, DVM, CVPP, CHPV
Updated April 19, 2024
Confused dog lying in a field a green
Khaligo / AdobeStock
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Marijuana is one of the most common toxins eaten by dogs, especially around college campuses — or if you have guests over for a little extra fun on a certain holiday in April. It’s fairly easy for a dog to consume what’s widely referred to as “weed” or “pot” because it’s so broadly available now that it’s legal in many states.

Your dog may be exposed to the effects of weed after eating edibles (gummies or baked goods), eating joints (the remains of marijuana cigarettes), after getting into somebody’s weed “stash” (dried plant), or from secondhand smoke. Sometimes, dogs can even get into mischief while out on walks, if they find and eat a leftover joint.

If your dog ate weed, you’re probably wondering what to do and how long their symptoms will last. Here’s everything you need to know about marijuana toxicity in dogs.

What to do if your dog ate weed

If your dog ate weed, contact your veterinarian immediately. The severity of your dog’s reaction will depend on the amount they ingested, the type of weed, and your dog’s size and health. There is no specific antidote, so your vet will do their best to treat your pup’s symptoms. Most dogs recover within 24 to 48 hours, but it’s important to monitor your dog for any serious complications.

What is marijuana toxicity in dogs?

Let’s start with the basics: Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa), which contains the active chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana toxicity (sometimes referred to as cannabis poisoning or THC poisoning) is caused by the ingestion or inhalation of the active chemical THC, which can be toxic to dogs, especially in high doses.

When a dog inhales or consumes the THC in weed, it’s absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Symptoms can be seen within 30 minutes but may take up to three hours after initial exposure. If your dog inhales the smoke, symptoms may appear within a few minutes. A few factors influence the timing of symptoms, including dosage, the dog’s age and weight, and how they were exposed (inhalation versus ingestion).

As the drug works through the bloodstream, the immediate symptoms begin to disappear quickly. Most pups will make a full recovery within 24 hours. But some effects of THC toxicity may last up to three to four days because the chemical is absorbed into fat.

Diagnosing marijuana toxicity in dogs

More than 95 percent of the veterinary patients seen for marijuana toxicity are dogs, and almost all exposed animals will exhibit neurological signs. The most common clinical signs are stumbling, uncontrollable urine dribbling, drooling, low body temperature, low blood pressure, and an increased response to stimulation. At higher doses, dogs can also suffer from hallucinations with barking or agitation. During particularly bad reactions, symptoms can progress to seizures, low or high heart rates, respiratory depression, and coma. Because of the increased risk of toxicity, dogs cannot simply sleep it off; they should be taken to receive treatment immediately.

Symptoms of marijuana toxicity include:

  • Incoordination and Stumbling

  • Lethargy

  • Dilated pupils

  • Slow heart rate

  • Tremors

  • Disorientation

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Agitation

  • Respiratory depression

  • Seizures

  • Coma

What tests will the vet do to diagnose marijuana toxicity?

It is unlikely that your vet will do a test for weed toxicity in your dog. While THC can be detected in blood or urine, diagnosis is not generally done with these tests. Because marijuana toxicity is so common, most vets can make a diagnosis based on the unmistakable symptoms and details provided by the pet parent.

Treatment for marijuana toxicity in dogs

If your dog recently ate marijuana (within 30 minutes), your veterinarian may attempt to induce vomiting to minimize the amount of toxin available to be absorbed. However, if it’s been longer than 30 minutes since ingestion, the anti-nausea effects of marijuana usually make the chances of inducing vomiting unlikely.

Some dogs may be able to be treated at home. Your veterinarian may elect to administer activated charcoal, which will help reduce the amount of THC absorbed. Subcutaneous fluids are often given to help prevent dehydration during recovery.

But, if symptoms are severe, your dog may need to be hospitalized for supportive care. This may include getting intravenous fluids, repeat administration of activated charcoal, and general nursing care. Veterinary staff will continuously monitor their temperature, heart rate, and breathing. If higher doses are ingested, some dogs require sedation with valium and, in very rare cases, may require mechanical assistance with breathing if their respiration is severely depressed.

What to do if you suspect your dog ate weed

If your dog consumed marijuana, you don’t need to panic — but it’s important to act quickly. Here are the steps that you should take:

Figure out what and how much they ate.

Your vet will need details like what exactly your dog ate. Was it an edible? Some flower? A joint? You’ll also need to figure out how much your dog ate, so it’s important to try to determine this before you call them. If your dog ate an edible, check the ingredients list for dangerous substances like chocolate and xylitol.

Contact your veterinarian

If it’s outside of business hours, call your local emergency vet. Let them know what your dog consumed and what symptoms they are experiencing. Depending on the situation, the vet may tell you to treat your pup at home or they may ask you to bring your dog in for an examination.

Provide supportive care

Follow your vet’s instructions, which may include keeping your dog hydrated and monitoring their symptoms. Be on the lookout for emergency symptoms, such as excessive vomiting or seizures, and call your vet right away if your dog has these issues.

Tips for preventing marijuana toxicity

When it comes to the prevention of marijuana toxicity in dogs, the best thing you can do is keep drugs out of your pup’s reach. Store them in a container with a lid, and don’t leave them out on the coffee table or counter. If you’re smoking, keep your dog out of the room and only let them back in once the air has cleared. If you have marijuana plants, keep them in a separate room that your dog can’t access.

Can dogs die from marijuana poisoning?

Most dogs will fully recover from marijuana toxicity. Compared to many other drugs, the lethal dose of marijuana is extremely high — so it’s rare for a pet to ingest enough to cause death. A dog is at higher risk when eating edibles (such as brownies) containing chocolate, artificial sweeteners like xylitol, and butters or when exposed to high THC concentrations.

The takeaway here is that weed is bad for dogs. The effects known as a “high” in people aren’t the same for dogs. Dogs experience stress, feel sick, have unpleasant disorientation and have worse symptoms. If your dog has eaten marijuana or edibles intended for people, they should be taken to the vet immediately.

If you suspect or know that your dog may have eaten marijuana, do not withhold this valuable information from your veterinarian. Your veterinarian is not obligated to report this to any authorities. This information is strictly needed to appropriately treat your pet and avoid unnecessary (and expensive) diagnostic tests.

FAQ (People also ask):

1) Should I inform the vet about the type of marijuana my dog consumed?

Yes, it’s very important to tell your vet what type of marijuana your dog consumed so they can figure out the best treatment.

2) Can I induce vomiting at home?

No, you should not induce vomiting at home — doing so could lead to more problems. Call your vet and ask for their advice.

3) How long will it take for my dog to recover?

Most dogs will recover from marijuana toxicity within one to two days.

4) Are there any long-term effects on my dog's health from marijuana ingestion?

No, in most cases, there are not any long-term effects on your dog’s health. However, if the marijuana caused your dog to have a seizure, they should be checked for brain damage.


Dr. Shea Cox, DVM, CVPP, CHPV

Dr. Shea Cox is the founder of BluePearl Pet Hospice and is a global leader in animal hospice and palliative care. With a focus on technology, innovation and education, her efforts are changing the end-of-life landscape in veterinary medicine.

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