Marijuana Poisoning in Dogs By Dr. Deborah Shores

Photo By: Coleen Danger
With the rise of legal marijuana for medical or recreational use across the United States, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that marijuana possesses to your four-legged family members. Your dog can become sick after inhalation of smoke, ingestion of the plant, and ingestion of foods containing marijuana. The consumption of baked goods containing marijuana can be a double-edged sword, as chocolate is a common ingredient that is also toxic to dogs.  

In many cases dogs eat the dried plant material, such as in a joint, and become ill. Fortunately, the toxicity of marijuana in dogs has a relatively wide margin of safety. A lethal dose is exceedingly high and it is rare for your dog to ingest enough to be fatal. However, it doesn’t take much marijuana to cause some adverse symptoms. 

Symptoms of marijuana poisoning include glassy eyes, stumbling, vomiting, dilated pupils, and lack of coordination Some dogs experience high agitation and excitement. Urinary incontinence is common. In serious cases, tremors, increase in heart rate, and seizures may occur. Symptoms usually begin in 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion. If your dog has inhaled smoke, symptoms may occur sooner. 

If you suspect that your dog has been exposed or consumed marijuana, call your veterinarian.  Treatment includes intravenous fluids, blood pressure monitoring, anti-vomiting medication, and with severe cases, ventilator support. Inducement of vomiting may be performed if your dog has recently ingested the plant (within 30 minutes). Active charcoal may also be used. This is a liquid that aids detoxification and prevents further toxins from being absorbed into the body.

To prevent your dog from encountering marijuana, keep it stored in places your dog is unable to reach. Also, The ASPCA Poison Control Center Helpline has veterinary and toxicology experts who will help you if you believe your dog has marijuana poisoning. Call 1-888-426-4435. 

If you live in a location where marijuana is illegal, do not let this fact prevent you from seeking help for your dog.  If your dog is ill, let your veterinarian know that there is marijuana use in the house or that you suspect that your dog has accidentally consumed some.  Your veterinarian will use this information to help your dog, not to inform the authorities.

Questions about marijuana poisoning in canines? Just ask me! 
Symptoms of marijuana poisoning include glassy eyes, stumbling, vomiting, dilated pupils, and lack of coordination Some dogs experience high agitation and excitement. Urinary incontinence is common. In serious cases, tremors, increase in heart rate, and seizures may occur. Symptoms usually begin in 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion. If your dog has inhaled smoke, symptoms may occur sooner. 

If you suspect that your dog has been exposed or consumed marijuana, call your veterinarian.  Treatment includes intravenous fluids, blood pressure monitoring, anti-vomiting medication, and with severe cases, ventilator support. Inducement of vomiting may be performed if your dog has recently ingested the plant (within 30 minutes). Active charcoal may also be used. This is a liquid that aids detoxification and prevents further toxins from being absorbed into the body.

To prevent your dog from encountering marijuana, keep it stored in places your dog is unable to reach. Also, The ASPCA Poison Control Center Helpline has veterinary and toxicology experts who will help you if you believe your dog has marijuana poisoning. Call 1-888-426-4435. 

If you live in a location where marijuana is illegal, do not let this fact prevent you from seeking help for your dog.  If your dog is ill, let your veterinarian know that there is marijuana use in the house or that you suspect that your dog has accidentally consumed some.  Your veterinarian will use this information to help your dog, not to inform the authorities.

Questions about marijuana poisoning in canines? Just ask me! 

Resources
ASPCA Poison Control Center. Marijuanahttp://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/marijuana

Poppenga, Robert. Illicit Drug Intoxications of Small Animals. Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference Proceedings, 2001.
ABOUT DR. DEBORAH SHORES

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida.

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