Marijuana Poisoning in Dogs

In this ever-changing world of marijuana legality, it is important to know the harmful effects and symptoms of marijuana poisoning in dogs. Dogs are very susceptible to marijuana, more so than humans. They have a more severe reaction to the psychoactive substance in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as they have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains.

Marijuana poisoning in dogs is a serious issue as they have a more severe reaction to the psychoactive substance found in the plant.

As the increase in marijuana legality has spread across the U.S.A., so has the rise in calls to Animal Poison Control. Marijuana is now legal in 18 states, Washington D.C., and Guam. Care should be taken to protect dogs from marijuana toxicosis. This will be exhibited by several symptoms.

Symptoms of Marijuana Poisoning in Dogs

  • Stumbling over their feet
  • Lethargic and sluggish
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Distraught
  • Tremors/shaking

Marijuana toxicity occurs when the plant is ingested, either through smoke inhalation or eating cannabis directly, either the plant or edibles. Edibles are particularly dangerous because they are designed as junk food and candy. They are very tempting for dogs who like human food and only a small amount can have a high dose of THC.

The dosage of THC an animal receives is important when discussing marijuana poisoning in dogs. Poisoning by ingestion of edibles is much more potent and dangerous than second-hand inhalation. Due to this range of poisoning, there is also a range in treatments used. Some will require IV fluids and a stay at the vet’s office, while some dogs will be fine as outpatients at home.

While marijuana poisoning in dogs is serious, it is rarely fatal and most make a full recovery in one to two days. However, do not neglect seeking veterinary care for marijuana ingestion, edibles especially.  Edibles often contain artificial sweeteners which are additionally toxic for dogs increasing the toxicity concerns. Any ingestion event should be discussed with a vet as you cannot be sure of the dosage or the exact effect it will have on your dog.