Canines and Cannabis: 5 FAQs Answered

We know you do your best to monitor your pup at all times, but accidents happen. With 33 states and the District of Columbia now allowing the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, there’s a heightened risk that your dog may ingest some of the drug, whether by eating it in plant or edible form, or inhaling secondhand smoke. So what should you do if you think Fido kicked back with some kush? From signs and symptoms to treatment options, here are some common questions answered.

What signs and symptoms should I look for?
If your dog ingested marijuana, he’ll likely start to show signs within one to three hours. This includes uncoordinated or wobbly movement, disorientation, vocalization, and excessive drooling or vomiting. Your dog might also experience a lower heart rate and body temperature. If Fido’s been eating Cheetos and watching Lassie for three hours, it’s a telltale sign.

canines and cannabis

Is marijuana dangerous for my dog?
While marijuana is safe for humans to inhale and consume, it can have a serious and in some cases even fatal effect on dogs depending on their age, health status, and body size. The toxicity may be intensified if your woofer wolfs down some marijuana combined with another off-limits substance like chocolate (no pot brownies, pooches).

What should I do if I think my dog consumed marijuana?
Symptoms should subside in 12 to 24 hours, but there’s no sure way of knowing how your pup will handle the drug unless he or she gets medical attention. Even if you live in a state where recreational marijuana is illegal, don’t hesitate to get your dog to the vet ASAP. Veterinarians aren’t required to report marijuana ingestion to law enforcement. They’ll be focused on making sure your pet gets the proper care.

How is it treated?
If the marijuana has not yet been absorbed into the bloodstream (i.e. your dog isn’t showing any symptoms), your vet may induce vomiting to get as much of it out of Fido’s system as pawsible. He might also receive intravenous fluids and activated charcoal, which help dilute and absorb the cannabis. In the most extreme, life-threatening cases, your dog’s stomach might be pumped to ensure a full recovery.      

What about CBD oil?
Many pet parents swear by CBD oil, or cannabidiol, to treat their dogs’ pain, anxiety, nausea, or seizures. Many consider this to be a safe practice, since CBD oil is made from hemp, rather than marijuana, and contains little or no THC, the property of the drug that gets users high. More of these alternative therapies may be on the horizon, though, as California recently passed a law that allows veterinarians to discuss—but not prescribe or distribute—cannabis-related treatment with pet owners.

Of course, the best way to keep your dog safe from ingesting marijuana is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Be sure to keep your stash locked up and out of reach, especially if it’s in the more appetizing form of candy or baked goods. Keep in mind your dog’s counter-surfing abilities, too.

For more ways to keep pupper safe, read our article on at-home pet first aid. Have a question about using CBD with your pet? Woof at us in the comments and we’ll do our best to get it answered.

(Top photo by Get Budding on Unsplash)

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