The Dog Blog

From the Vet

What Happens if Your Dog Eats Marijuana

by Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH

Apr 25, 2023

Toxicities are a frequent cause for concern in veterinary medicine. There is at least one call per day to the office about different things dogs have eaten. Marijuana is the most common street drug ingested in dogs.

There are several cannabinoids present in the plant but THC is considered the most active and main psychoactive agent. THC is very attracted to fat and is easily distributed to the brain and other fatty tissues after absorption. The amount of THC in a plant can vary from 1-8%, however, genetically modified versions can contain higher levels. Most cases of toxicity in dogs are accidental from dogs eating plants, cigarettes or baked goods. Occasionally the toxicity is intentional when smoke is blown in a pets face.

The onset of action is dependent on the route of administration and the dose. Clinical signs can occur within 6-12 minutes after inhalation and 30-60 minutes after ingestion.

Clinical signs include depression, disorientation, ataxia, glassy eyes, mydriasis, recumbency, hypothermia, bradycardia, and behavioral changes. Urinary dribbling has also been reported.

A diagnosis is made primarily on history and corroborative clinical signs. There are some rapid tests available but because there are natural and synthetic varieties a negative test in pet with known exposure is possible.

Treatment is supportive care, confinement, and close monitoring. In severe cases IV fluids, treatment for agitation, low heart rate and low body temperature may be required. In severe cases kidney values should be monitored and in a few cases mechanical ventilation was required.

As with any toxicity recognition of the ingestion/ inhalation is paramount and your dog should be evaluated as soon as possible. The other important component of this is to be honest with the veterinary staff. We really don’t care that you have marijuana we just want to help you dog- this includes other drugs that your pet may have ingested… just tell us so we can help your pet.

About Dr. Eileen Savier

Barks & Recreation is proud to feature Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH as our Veterinary Blogger in our “From the Vet” Series — offering information related to the health and welfare of your furry family members! Currently part of the team of doctors at Keystone Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Savier is a 2012 Graduate of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, She completed her clinical experience at The Ohio State University and after veterinary school she pursued further education and certification in Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Fear Free veterinary visits. Dr. Savier has a special interest in integrative medicine, animal behavior, and internal medicine and is committed to improving animal health care by integrating Eastern and Western philosophies. She enjoys working with fearful & aggressive dogs and cats and she has had additional training in low stress handling techniques and encourages positive reinforcement during exams and procedures. Her clinical interests include pain management, animal behavior, geriatric patient care, and internal medicine.

Dr. Savier is a member of the following associations:

Dr. Savier shares her home with two (soon to be three) dogs, two cats, and a toddler. She lovingly refers to her two dogs as Coconut Retrievers as they were rescue dogs she brought home from the island of St. Kitts. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and planning her next Disney vacation.