Monday May 14, 2018

By Nicholas Demski

420 Culture

If you’re a dog owner, odds are you’ve seen your furry friend try and sneak a few bites of food off your plate when you’re not looking. Dogs are always sniffing down scraps of food to enjoy, and often times without even considering if that food is actually good for them. Most of the time, if a dog eats something that doesn’t sit well with them it results in a simple upset stomach. But what if a dog eats cannabis or cannabis-infused edibles? To help you better understand what to do if your dog eats your stash, it’s important to take note of the following information.

The New Relationship between Canines and Cannabis

Cannabis has been providing comfort to humans for thousands of years. However, it wasn’t until recently that some veterinarians began considering cannabis for dogs – even though the American Veterinary Medical Association has “no formal position regarding the veterinary use of medical marijuana.” The AVMA has recommended cannabis be reclassified at the federal level to allow further study into its potential for canines though. At this time however, no peer-reviewed clinical studies are showing cannabis as a safe and effective medicine for animals.

While research on dogs and cannabis is limited, that doesn’t mean marijuana isn’t a useful solution.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is in the early stages of a study looking at the efficacy of a medicine for animals called Therabis. Likewise, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is developing a way to detect cannabinoids in animal blood to help determine appropriate dosing levels. It may not be long until we see effective medicine for animals derived from the cannabis plant and there are already many products on the market created with cannabidiol (CBD) – products with other cannabinoids like THC are less common at this time however.

Mary Dog
While research is limited, more studies on dogs and cannabis are emerging.

Some vets are even pushing for cannabis use before the science supports it because they have witnessed the benefits first-hand in their practices. However, even strong anecdotal evidence should be substantiated through trials before it becomes a regular practice. Dogs don’t react the same way to cannabis as humans do for a handful of reasons: our endocannabinoid systems are not identical, the way we metabolize things isn’t congruent and humans are usually larger and have more fat than dogs. If you have cannabis and animals at home, it would be wise to take precautions so they don’t accidentally (or purposefully) ingest it.

So, if you find your dog licking chocolate off his lips and your plate of infused brownies missing, here’s what you should do.

Go to a Vet or Not?

If your dog has ingested cannabis, there are a few key things to know when considering if you should take them to the vet. Remember, vets are not mandated reporters and they’re not going to call the police. So, if you feel you need to take your dog to the vet you should absolutely do so.

How Much Marijuana Did Your Dog Eat?

If your dog ate your entire 1000 mg chocolate bar, it’s definitely time to go to the vet. A cookie or two? It depends on a few things like the size and breed of your dog. In cases where your dog eats only a small amount of cannabis (10 mg and under), just keep an eye on them and things will most likely be fine.

High Looking Pup
How much marijuana your dog ingested plays an important factor in whether or not you need to take them to the vet.

If you were about to roll a joint and she licked it all off the plate, you’re probably okay staying home as well since cannabis that is not decarboxylated will produce less effects.

Check Their Symptoms and Behavior

If your pup was fine for the first 30 minutes and now he’s a bit wobbly or groggy you’re probably still okay to stay home. Just be sure to monitor their behavior and stay nearby. If you see vomiting however, it’s time to start becoming seriously concerned. Dogs have a high occurrence of aspiration pneumonia, meaning they can choke to death on their own vomit. If vomiting persists or your dog is acting strange and not like their usual self for a prolonged period of time it’s definitely in your best interest to take them into the vet for a quick check-up.

Groggy Dog
Be sure to monitor your dog closely if they've ingested any amount of cannabis accidentally.

If you’re witnessing seizures or your dog is in a coma, you need to get to the vet ASAP. Although extremely rare, several cases of paralysis-induced death have occurred after a dog has eaten a large amount of cannabis.

Taking Care of Your Dog at Home

If you’re keeping your dog at home after ingesting cannabis, keep a close eye on them. If their symptoms decline, be sure to take them to the vet immediately. If they only ate a small amount of cannabis and you think they’ll be ok, simply take care of them and stay nearby to keep them calm and relaxed. Check out these tips for taking good care of your dog if they’re experiencing mild discomfort.

Caring for Your Dog at Home:

  • Give your dog activated charcoal to absorb THC and prevent it from entering the bloodstream
  • Induce vomiting within the first 30 minutes of consumption to help reduce the amount of cannabis absorbed into their bodies
  • Try to make your pup comfortable. A warm, dark room with peace and quiet is ideal
  • Be a good buddy to your pet, stay with them, soothe them, pet them, talk to them and let them ride out of the worst of it with their best companion
  • Have a bowl of water ready in case your dog becomes thirsty

The last thing to do is go over what happened. It’s important to understand why your dog was able to eat your cannabis in the first place and make changes to your lifestyle to ensure that your canine doesn’t have to experience this again.


Safety for your pets is a top priority and you should do everything you can to prevent your dog from ingesting cannabis. Should it happen however, keep in mind that it’s rarely fatal and your pooch is likely to have no more than a bad day. Just stay calm, cool, collected and remember the tips from this article and you’ll likely be fine!

Has your dog ever ingested cannabis? What did you do and how did you prevent it from happening again?

Nicholas Demski Nicholas Demski

As a former global educator, Nicholas uses his B.S. in biology to leverage his understanding of cannabinoid science into meaningful content for readers. For several years, Nicholas has written for several blogs, including Green Flower, and provided copywriting services for CBD and cannabis companies worldwide. He's also a Staff Writer for Terpenes and Testing Magazine, CBD Health and Wellness Magazine, and Extraction Magazine.

While Nicholas is a medical cannabis patient in Michigan, he has traveled from Spain to Colombia to Cambodia to see what cannabis is like around the world. He uses his background in science, world experience, and unique writing style to help people learn more about cannabis and cannabinoids at and on Instagram @Cannabiologist. You can also connect with Nicholas on his LinkedIn profile.

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