As legal use of marijuana becomes more widespread, accidental consumption of these products by our pets surely follows. Many dog owners are surprised their dog would show interest in searching out marijuana-containing products other than edibles, but in fact, dogs will readily consume the plant material itself, as well as derivative products. Edibles are exponentially more potent and dangerous, and may also contain chocolate or xylitol, which carry additional risks.

Veterinary emergency hospitals treat dogs with marijuana toxicosis regularly. Research on beneficial effects of cannabinoids in pets is in the works, but the potential adverse effects of marijuana ingestion on dogs is well-known. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy & weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slow heart rate
  • Dribbling urine
If you suspect your pet has symptoms of marijuana ingestion, please don’t keep this a secret from veterinary staff.It is important for a veterinarian treating your pet to know the details of the exposure in order to help the animal; veterinarians are not obligated to report anything to local police even if this was an illegal substance. (This obviously applies to other recreational drugs as well.) Urine drug test strips can be used in pets, but as they are designed for human use, the accuracy is not perfect.

Treating a dog following marijuana intoxication may include induced vomiting and administration of activated charcoal. Effects can begin within minutes to hours of ingestion. Dogs who are mildly affected may not require hospitalization, and may simply be confined to a safe place to prevent injury until the effects wear off. More severe cases (particularly those that are unable to walk) should be kept in-hospital for IV fluid support. Very severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness or death are rare, but possible particularly in the context of marijuana butter or other edibles.

Please save your pet from all this trouble, and be sure to store edibles and other forms of marijuana in a secure container safely out of reach of pets (and children).