As marijuana becomes legal across the country, more and more people are indulging in edibles. And with good reason. They have been known to help treat poor appetite, pain and weight loss in cancer patients, as well as mitigate anxiety and muscle pain, among a host of other benefits. However, as edibles are becoming more available around the home, cases of dogs accidentally ingesting them have also seen a spike. According to the ASPCA (via the Los Angeles Times) national call volume for cannabis ingestion jumped from 1,436 to a whopping 3,923 cases between 2017 and 2020. That’s why we consulted Emily Cross, DVM, DABVP and Purina veterinarian, who gave us the lowdown on what to do if your dog eats edibles accidentally. Find out more below.
Is marijuana bad for dogs?
Not to be dramatic, but hell yes! While edibles may help you eat better and relax, THC, which is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis is actually toxic to dogs. On top of that, most edibles come in chocolate form—brownies, cookies, bars—which is also toxic to canines, so you’re basically sitting on a potential landmine if you leave a chocolate edible lying around.
Making the situation even more complex is the fact that you may not even know your pup ate your weed brownie until much later. Typically, it’ll take about 30 minutes to an hour before the edible takes effect, per Spot Pet Insurance. However, Dr. Cross wants you to know that “the effects of THC ingestion are dose dependent. The weight of the dog and amount consumed are key factors of understanding risk of fatality.”
If your dog eats a CBD-infused edible, there may be no cause to worry as CBD is not toxic to dogs. However, if they gobbled a steady amount, it may just be best to get a vet on the line as a precaution.
What are some signs and symptoms of cannabis poisoning?
Again, your dog may take a while before they begin exhibiting some signs and symptoms of marijuana ingestion, but you should definitely be on the lookout for the below if you suspect they’ve eaten an edible:
- Uncoordinated movements
- Barking, howling and whining
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty breathing
- Hyperactivity or agitation
- Rapid heart rate
OK, so what do I do if my dog ate an edible?
Because dogs are so attached to us as humans—we dress them up, feed them some of our scraps and not-so-secretly hope they dream about us—it’s easy to forget that they have completely different digestive systems than us. But it’s always good remember that your pal isn’t, in fact, a human (no matter how much they act like it). When they ingest any substance with THC, such as an edible, they don’t experience it the same way people do.
“It’s important to note that the dog won’t be high,” Dr. Cross explained. “He or she would be experiencing a toxic effect of ingesting a potentially harmful ingredient, which is not at all the same as a human feeling a ‘high.’” Translation: If you thought Lassie would get the munchies, a serious case of the zoomies or just be extraordinarily sleepy after eating your special brownie, think again. “Depending on the amount of marijuana ingested, the impacts can range from restlessness and drooling to coma and death.”
In the event that your fur baby ingests an edible that contains THC, your best line of defense is to take them to an emergency vet. Depending on the dosage and how your best bud is reacting, the vet may pump their tummy, induce vomiting or give them a dose of activated charcoal which will help remove cannabis from their system, according to Spot Pet Insurance. It’s also possible that the vet will urge you to just sit and calm your pup until the episode passes.
How do you avoid your dog from getting into your stash?
The best way to avoid any run-ins is to keep all marijuana and marijuana products as far away from your doggo as possible. Store your goodies in a can with a secure top or vacuum seal it in a Ziploc so your dog isn’t lured by the smell. If you’re also a smoker, get rid of any butts, clean up all bongs, trays etc. so Bingo doesn’t accidentally lick them.
Bottom line: Marijuana is toxic for dogs, so keep your special snacks tucked away and out of reach from your curious canine.