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Dog Ate Your Cannabis Stash? Here’s What to Do

Monday May 14, 2018

I f you’re a dog owner, odds are you’ve seen your furry friend try and sneak a few bites of food off your plate when you’re not looking. Dogs are always sniffing down scraps of food to enjoy, and often times without even considering if that food is actually good for them. Most of the time, if a dog eats something that doesn’t sit well with them it results in a simple upset stomach. But what if a dog eats cannabis or cannabis-infused edibles? To help you better understand what to do if your dog eats your stash, it’s important to take note of the following information.

The New Relationship between Canines and Cannabis

Cannabis has been providing comfort to humans for thousands of years. However, it wasn’t until recently that some veterinarians began considering cannabis for dogs – even though the American Veterinary Medical Association has “no formal position regarding the veterinary use of medical marijuana.” The AVMA has recommended cannabis be reclassified at the federal level to allow further study into its potential for canines though. At this time however, no peer-reviewed clinical studies are showing cannabis as a safe and effective medicine for animals.

While research on dogs and cannabis is limited, that doesn’t mean marijuana isn’t a useful solution.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is in the early stages of a study looking at the efficacy of a medicine for animals called Therabis. Likewise, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is developing a way to detect cannabinoids in animal blood to help determine appropriate dosing levels. It may not be long until we see effective medicine for animals derived from the cannabis plant and there are already many products on the market created with cannabidiol (CBD) – products with other cannabinoids like THC are less common at this time however.

Some vets are even pushing for cannabis use before the science supports it because they have witnessed the benefits first-hand in their practices. However, even strong anecdotal evidence should be substantiated through trials before it becomes a regular practice. Dogs don’t react the same way to cannabis as humans do for a handful of reasons: our endocannabinoid systems are not identical, the way we metabolize things isn’t congruent and humans are usually larger and have more fat than dogs. If you have cannabis and animals at home, it would be wise to take precautions so they don’t accidentally (or purposefully) ingest it.

So, if you find your dog licking chocolate off his lips and your plate of infused brownies missing, here’s what you should do.

Go to a Vet or Not?

If your dog has ingested cannabis, there are a few key things to know when considering if you should take them to the vet. Remember, vets are not mandated reporters and they’re not going to call the police. So, if you feel you need to take your dog to the vet you should absolutely do so.

How Much Marijuana Did Your Dog Eat?

If your dog ate your entire 1000 mg chocolate bar, it’s definitely time to go to the vet. A cookie or two? It depends on a few things like the size and breed of your dog. In cases where your dog eats only a small amount of cannabis (10 mg and under), just keep an eye on them and things will most likely be fine.

If you were about to roll a joint and she licked it all off the plate, you’re probably okay staying home as well since cannabis that is not decarboxylated will produce less effects.

Check Their Symptoms and Behavior

If your pup was fine for the first 30 minutes and now he’s a bit wobbly or groggy you’re probably still okay to stay home. Just be sure to monitor their behavior and stay nearby. If you see vomiting however, it’s time to start becoming seriously concerned. Dogs have a high occurrence of aspiration pneumonia, meaning they can choke to death on their own vomit. If vomiting persists or your dog is acting strange and not like their usual self for a prolonged period of time it’s definitely in your best interest to take them into the vet for a quick check-up.

If you’re witnessing seizures or your dog is in a coma, you need to get to the vet ASAP. Although extremely rare, several cases of paralysis-induced death have occurred after a dog has eaten a large amount of cannabis.

Taking Care of Your Dog at Home

If you’re keeping your dog at home after ingesting cannabis, keep a close eye on them. If their symptoms decline, be sure to take them to the vet immediately. If they only ate a small amount of cannabis and you think they’ll be ok, simply take care of them and stay nearby to keep them calm and relaxed. Check out these tips for taking good care of your dog if they’re experiencing mild discomfort.

Caring for Your Dog at Home:

  • Give your dog activated charcoal to absorb THC and prevent it from entering the bloodstream
  • Induce vomiting within the first 30 minutes of consumption to help reduce the amount of cannabis absorbed into their bodies
  • Try to make your pup comfortable. A warm, dark room with peace and quiet is ideal
  • Be a good buddy to your pet, stay with them, soothe them, pet them, talk to them and let them ride out of the worst of it with their best companion
  • Have a bowl of water ready in case your dog becomes thirsty

The last thing to do is go over what happened. It’s important to understand why your dog was able to eat your cannabis in the first place and make changes to your lifestyle to ensure that your canine doesn’t have to experience this again.

Takeaways

Safety for your pets is a top priority and you should do everything you can to prevent your dog from ingesting cannabis. Should it happen however, keep in mind that it’s rarely fatal and your pooch is likely to have no more than a bad day. Just stay calm, cool, collected and remember the tips from this article and you’ll likely be fine!

Has your dog ever ingested cannabis? What did you do and how did you prevent it from happening again?

Many cannabis enthusiasts are also dog lovers. While this usually results in tons of fun, sometimes a curious pup can ingest marijuana accidentally. Check out our article to learn what to do in case your furry friend eats your stash of cannabis.

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So…My Dog Ate My Weed…

As marijuana is becoming increasingly popular in use as it is legalized throughout the US, it is becoming a more prominent problem with our pets as well. This is something we are experiencing more and more in our profession, with some clinics treating 2-3 cases per week. The ASPCA poison control hotline said their reported cases have increased 200% in the past 5 years. That’s a lot of weed!

Whether your dog accidentally ate your brownies or the more potent medical grade product, it can affect them too. Small amounts may cause mild symptoms, but a large dose can become more severe for your pet, though thankfully it is very rarely fatal. While there are funny videos of pets “high”, this really is a more serious issue that needs to be addressed by your veterinarian.

What Causes These Signs?
Marijuana is derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The active ingredient that causes the clinical signs is delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

What Might I See?
Most pets will start showing signs 30-90 minutes after eating the THC, and these signs can last anywhere from a few hours to several days! In cases of ingestion, 90% of animals will develop neurological signs such as incoordination, extreme lethargy, startling, dilated pupils, and a slow heart rate. If they become excessively sedated this can lead to more serious problems such as aspiration, breathing problems, or incontinence (not realizing they are using the restroom). About 30% of patients will develop GI signs such as vomiting or diarrhea.

So What Should I Do?
First, get your pet to a veterinarian quickly. We are not going to judge you or call the police, so the #1 thing is to be honest with us. Honestly, we have all seen this before, and we usually have an idea of what is likely going on. However, other medications or issues can cause similar signs which can definitely change our treatment of your pet. So the best thing is just to tell us so we can get your pet feeling better and back home. In addition, chocolate or other things the marijuana may be mixed with can definitely be even more of a concern and potentially deadly to small dogs or cats.

What Will We Do?
A lot of this depends on how severe your pets signs are. If you catch your pet immediately we can get them to throw up before it gets in their system, avoiding any signs altogether. Some cases are treated mildly by controlling the symptoms with nausea medication and supportive care. More serious cases do sometimes require hospitalization on fluids and monitoring of blood pressure and heart rate. If you are suspicious but aren’t sure if your pet got into marijuana there is a urine test that we can do, however this isn’t always completely accurate because it is a test for humans and the crossover isn’t always perfect.

As this becomes more prominent we encourage you to talk to us and be honest with what you know. That way we can treat your “Party Animal” and get them back home where they belong.

As marijuana is becoming increasingly popular in use as it is legalized throughout the US, it is becoming a more prominent problem with our pets as well. This is something we are experiencing more and more in our profession, with some clinics treating 2-3 cases per week.