what to do if your dog eats weed

Your dog ate weed by accident. Now what?

A few years ago, my former housemate’s dog ate weed — a cannabis-infused brownie, to be exact. She connected the dots when she noticed her normally docile, sweet-natured chihuahua mix fearfully snapping at anyone within reach — and the disappearance of the weed brownie she had stashed in her purse. The high wore off eventually, and luckily, her pupper was just fine. But what exactly happens when your pet accidentally eats weed, and what’s the best way to handle it?

Amid the rising tide of cannabis legalization and growing acceptance of the substance overall, pet owners have probably begun asking themselves these questions more often. Indeed, there’s evidence to suggest these accidents might become more common. One study found that during a steep rise in medical marijuana registrations in Colorado between 2005 and 2010, marijuana toxicosis cases in dogs quadrupled at two veterinary hospitals in the state.

Dogs are far more likely than any other pet to eat your weed brownie, Steven Friedenberg, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, tells Mic. “We see dogs being a lot more curious about things and interested in eating everything than many other species.” Cats, on the other hand, tend to be much more finicky about what they eat.

If your doggo does get into your stash, it’ll take roughly 30 minutes to an hour for the weed to take effect, says Karl Jandrey, a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Intoxication in dogs looks similar, but not the same, as it does in their humans. Physically, they might have unusually dilated pupils, a slower heart rate, and difficulty walking, if they can walk at all. (In severe cases, they might just lie still.) They also often dribble urine uncontrollably. Behavior-wise, they tend to startle more easily and be warier of people they normally trust.

This heightened apprehension might explain why eating a weed brownie made my old housemate’s dog so aggro, although Jandrey notes it’s more common for weed to result in a general lethargy. But chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, can cause agitation, Friedenberg says — so the chocolate in the brownie might have played a role.

It also matters whether your Very Good (but very high) Boy or Girl ingested an edible versus flower. Since, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main inebriating compound in marijuana) is fat-soluble, a stick of weed butter or a brownie has a higher concentration of THC than an equivalent volume of, say, THC-infused seltzer — and will therefore mess up your pet more, according to Friedenberg. Size matters, too. “The smaller the animal, the more toxic,” Jandrey says. In other words, a weed brownie would probably have a smaller effect on a Great Dane than it did on my former housemate’s smol chihuahua mix.

Dogs have the ability to recycle a class of compounds called cannabinoids, which includes THC, in weed. When the dog eats their next meal, the bile gets secreted back into the intestines, basically re-exposing the them to the cannabinoids.

The effects of an edible high usually last for around 18 to 24 hours in dogs, Jandrey says; in humans, they last for only up to 12 hours, according to Harvard Health. Jandrey explains that dogs have the ability to recycle a class of compounds called cannabinoids, which includes THC, in weed. The cannabinoids get absorbed through the gut and later stored in the bile, important for digesting fats. When the dog eats their next meal, the bile gets secreted back into the intestines, basically re-exposing the them to the cannabinoids.

Dogs usually just sleep off the weed, Friedenberg says, but there have been some case reports of dogs dying from eating weed or weed-laden products. (The study of the Colorado veterinary hospitals reported the deaths of two dogs that had eaten weed butter in baked products.) Most were small dogs that consumed extremely high doses, which can cause respiratory depression, or slow, insufficient breathing. Friedenberg says such cases are rare, though.

So how do you know if you should take your fur baby to the doc, or if they’ll be fine riding it out at home? “I think for the most part, if you’re concerned about your animal’s health at all and not sure what’s going on, the best thing to do is bring your dog to a veterinarian,” Friedenberg says. Let your vet know if you’re concerned that your pupper got a hold of your weed, so they actually know what your dog is dealing with and don’t run tests for a totally different condition. If you’re worried about the legal repercussions, Friedenberg says your vet probably won’t care.

If you’re comfortable with your dog being mildly affected — “a little wobbly, a little incontinent” — but mostly okay, and their symptoms don’t worsen, they probably don’t need veterinary attention, Jandrey says. Just make sure they’re eating and drinking normally, Friedenberg adds.

But if your doggo’s symptoms worsen within an hour or two of you first noticing them, get to a vet, since they could worsen even further over the next few hours, Jandrey says. And if your dog is hard to rouse, or you struggle to get them to walk, Friedenberg suggests going to the hospital, where they’ll likely be given an intravenous lipid solution that can help absorb THC in the bloodstream. Head to the ER if you have a small dog you suspect has eaten a high dose of weed.

To keep your pets from getting their paws on your weed in the first place, store it in a medicine cabinet, on a high shelf, or other hard-to-access spot, Friedenberg says. Take these precautions before you become impaired, rather than passing out and waking up to find your dog scarfed down the gummies you left on the counter in your edible-induced haze. Or, if you dog already tends to misbehave in general, consider keeping them crated when you’re not at home.

Since dogs will eat anything, even stuff you wouldn’t consider edible, remember to keep all cannabis products out of their reach. Jandrey recently treated a small dog that ate six joints, sneaking them from the coffee able while their human had some friends over to smoke. “You can never predict what an animal will do,” he says. They may not even be hungry, just inquisitive.

Basically, safeguard your pets from weed as you would kids from medications, Jandrey says. Seeing your fur baby high can be scary, but if they do get to your stash, they’ll probably emerge on the other side just fine, like my old housemate’s dog, even if it takes a couple of hours.

This article was originally published on November 4, 2019

A few years ago, my former housemate’s dog ate weed — a cannabis-infused brownie, to be exact. She connected the dots when she noticed her normally docile, sweet-natured chihuahua mix fearfully snapping at anyone within reach — and the disappearance…

What Can Happen if Your Dog Eats Weed?

So, there you are; a dog owner and a weed smoker combined. You’ve got a stash hidden away somewhere special, just to keep it safe and you make sure your dog doesn’t go anywhere near it.

Only… the unthinkable happens; Sparky managed to find it. Your dog has eaten your stash and now you need to know what to do.

Is he going to get high? Is he going to get sick? Is he going to die?!

Let’s take a look at what exactly happens to your dog when he eats weed, as well as what you should do in case it ever happens.

Firstly, Does Weed Affect Dogs?

For starters, it is important to know that, yes, your weed is going to have an effect on your dog. To understand this, let us take a look at what weed actually is and why it has an effect at all.

Cannabis is a plant that has been evolving for millions of years; it didn’t evolve THC and CBD so that some walking monkeys can get high off of it – they did it to protect themselves.

THC and other cannabinoids were evolved in cannabis plants for the purpose of protection against grazing animals – if you are a plant, it is understandable you don’t exactly what to get munched on by some prehistoric version of a cow.

So, over a long period of time, the plant tries to come up with ways to survive. Some plants develop spikes, some develop horrible poisons – cannabis does something a little bit different.

As you likely know, cannabis is filled to the brim with THC, CBD and other cannabinoids; when you consume THC, it gives you a psychoactive high. Great, right? Now imagine that, instead of smoking a bowl or a single joint, you instead directly ate a massive pile of marijuana buds, stems and leaves – how do you think you would feel then?

When you ingest cannabinoids, they begin to react with your endocannabinoid system , a health system that exists to control a myriad of different bodily functions, including your sensation of pain, your rate of release for neurochemicals, and even your inflammation response.

When you imbibe THC, it bonds with your primary endocannabinoid receptor, the CB1 receptor. It sits there and triggers it, causing numerous effects like the psychoactive high.

This high is actually the result of your brain being massively over stimulated by these cannabinoids, causing your brain to freak out and panic and create all kinds of mental feelings.

We can control these sensations now though forced dosage control and selective breeding, but back then… well, your every day cannabis plant isn’t going to be carefully balanced for your desirous effect.

This cannabinoid defense mechanism was evolved to affect mammals, as only mammals have an endocannabinoid system. Cows are mammals, we are mammals, and so is your dog. Cannabis does indeed have an effect on your dog , pretty much exactly the same as what happens to you when you imbibe cannabis.

So, what’s going to happen to your little pooch? What kind of effects is he going to suffer?

What’s Going to Happen to My Dog if he Eats Cannabis?

On reading that cannabis affects dogs in the same way as humans, you might first think that this might be pretty cool – your best doggie friend can get high with you, right?

Well, remember that time you had to give your dog painkillers, and you noticed that the dosage is massively different than if you were to be prescribed the same ones by your doctor?

That’s because your dog weighs a lot less than you, meaning that every dosage has to be scaled down. This means that if your dog ate one of your joints , it’s not that he’s going to be high – he’s going to be experiencing the worst high you can imagine. This is only made worse by the fact that, most likely, if your dog got into your stash, he probably didn’t just stop after one mouthful; he probably ate a lot .

So, here’s what you can expect.

If you are lucky, he might simply start vomiting – dogs have a great vomit reflex, far better than ours, and are pretty good about vomiting up something that their bodies have registered as poison.

However, weed often doesn’t get registered as a poison because it has so many different flavors and tastes; your dog probably thought it was a new type of treats you were hiding from him!

So if he is not sick, what will happen?

To begin with, you will probably notice your dog acting incredibly loopy and drugged – imagine the highest you or anyone you know has ever gotten, then think about how you would act if you were even higher than that.

That’s what Scruffy is feeling right now.

They might have trouble balancing themselves, as well as beginning to act really lethargic. If they stay at this stage, they are likely going to be fine – just keep a close eye on them.

This probably doesn’t seem too bad now, but it can get worse; they might start to have some breathing problems or suffer reduced blood pressure.

This is a result of the cannabinoids affecting their endocannabinoid system, causing them to start to experience all the different effects that cannabis can cause you to feel at once.

If it gets bad enough, it can actually become a serious medical emergency.

So, what should you do?

My Dog Ate My Weed: What Do I Do Now?

The important thing to remember is to stay calm – you need to be there for your little buddy and make sure he is okay.

Take him to the nearest veterinarian you can find and leave him in their care. What they will do is force him to be sick, as well as putting him on a drip and some drugs that will ensure his heart rate and breathing stays stable.

After that, you just need to wait for the drug to pass from his system. This can be pretty quick, as dogs are smaller than us and thus process drugs like these a bit faster than us.

Your canine pal might experience some increased anxiety , as well as some lethargy, for a few days, but as long as you look after him, he will be completely fine.

He will also need to drink a lot more water than you might expect, as the process of pushing out the marijuana is very dehydrating for animals that aren’t used to marijuana consumption.

Make sure he gets plenty of rest and always has access to fresh water. Of course, you should be doing that anyway for your dog.

Also, don’t forget – weed isn’t all bad for dogs.

So, is Weed Completely Bad for Dogs?

Though it might be tempting to simply rule that all cannabis is bad for dogs, it is important to remember one thing; cannabis affects dogs just like it does us. This means that we can help medicate dogs using cannabis in the same way we do ourselves.

Dogs can be prescribed cannabis (or even just CBD, according to a study by Samara et al.) to treat all manner of diseases and maladies, just like with humans.

The most common illnesses are things like epilepsy and arthritis, but it can also be prescribed for things like anxiety. However, it is important to note that you need expert advice as to how to properly dose your dog with marijuana.

If you start messing around without knowing what you are doing, you could risk endangering your dog’s life. They only need a very small amount compared to us humans.

Just remember that, according to a plethora of studies, such as this one by Fitzgerald et al. for the Top Companion for Animal Medicine , the lethal dose for dogs is 3 grams of THC per kilogram of body weight.

So, if your dog has broken into your stash and is acting loopy, this means that he is probably going to be fine, because unless you are running a massive growing operation, your dog likely hasn’t eaten that much cannabis

Remember that the average gram of marijuana only has about an average of 200 milligrams of THC within it. In other words, if your dog weighed 30 kilograms (the average weight of an adult male Labrador Retriever), he would need to eat 90 grams of THC to ingest a lethal dose. That works out as 450 grams of marijuana, or nearly a full pound.

Unless your dog has managed to tuck into a full pound of weed in your stash, your dog is going to be just fine – he is just going to need to be looked after for a little while.

Cannabis isn’t completely evil for dogs, but they need to only take it in controlled amounts and with their vet’s knowledge and experience.

If you start trying to drug your dog yourself, he’s probably not going to have a good time.

At least now you know what to do if your best furry friend manages to locate that secret hidden stash and gobble up all your weed. It is probably fine, but just keep an eye on him and take him to the vet, just to be sure.

What really happens if your dog gets hold of your stash, and what should you do next? We have the answers right here in this guide.