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Can Dogs Get High? Vet-Approved Marijuana Toxicity Facts & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 by Dogster Team

marijuana plant

Can Dogs Get High? Vet-Approved Marijuana Toxicity Facts & FAQ


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We live in a world where marijuana is becoming increasingly mainstream. With its growing acceptance, many people are curious about its effects not only on themselves but also on their beloved furry companions. It’s a question that may have crossed your mind while sharing a cozy evening with your loyal canine by your side: can dogs get high too? Yes, dogs can get high, and marijuana is toxic to dogs.

With that established, the next thing to consider is whether marijuana might be considered good for dogs in certain scenarios. Today, we embark on a fascinating journey to uncover the truth about the effects of marijuana on our four-legged friends!

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What Is Marijuana?

First things first, let’s understand what marijuana is. Marijuana,1 also known as cannabis, consists of the dried flower buds, leaves, and stems of the female Cannabis sativa, a plant that contains compounds called cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana in humans and toxicity in dogs.

marijuana or cannabis leaves
Image Credit: 7raysmarketing, Pixabay

How Can Dogs Consume Marijuana?

Dogs can get high from marijuana by ingesting or inhaling the plant or its byproducts. Unlike humans, dogs don’t need a joint or a bong to experience the effects.

Dogs can consume marijuana through various means. They may come across marijuana plants or buds during walks or in the backyard. Edibles, such as brownies or gummies, can be enticing to dogs due to their scent and taste. Even the leftover crumbs or wrappers can be harmful if ingested. Additionally, dogs can inadvertently inhale marijuana smoke if they are in proximity to someone smoking.

Is Marijuana Toxic to Dogs?

Yes, marijuana is toxic to dogs. While its toxicity depends on a few factors and the poisoning is rarely fatal, it can cause severe health issues for our furry companions and usually requires hospitalization. The level of toxicity depends on the amount consumed, the concentration of THC in the product, and even the size of your dog.

Should You Give Marijuana To Your Dog?

Absolutely not! It’s crucial to understand that marijuana is toxic to dogs. The effects of marijuana on dogs are unpredictable, and the potential risks far outweigh any perceived benefits. Giving marijuana to your dog can lead to serious health consequences and is considered irresponsible and unsafe.

Although there are many health claims regarding the use of marijuana for humans, the current available evidence does not say the same for dogs. There is still much research to be conducted regarding marijuana use for dogs and other pets, but many experts today advise to refrain from giving your dog marijuana.

A dog with a cleft lip looking up the camera
Image Credit: paugarzagarcia, Shutterstock

How Does Marijuana Affect Dogs?

When dogs consume marijuana, the THC enters their bloodstream and affects their central nervous system. The psychoactive effects of THC can lead to various behavioral changes in dogs. These alterations may include:

  • Wobbly gait
  • Inactivity
  • Loss of coordination
  • Changes in perception
  • Vocalizations
  • Increased sensitivity to motion, sound, or touch
  • Depression
  • Coma

Similar to humans, dogs may become disoriented, lethargic, or excessively excitable. They may also lose coordination and experience difficulty walking. The psychoactive effects of marijuana can also cause changes in perception for your dog. They may experience hallucinations or have an altered sense of time.

In addition, marijuana may also cause physical disruptions in your dog such as changes in heart rate, digestive issues, and even difficulty controlling their bladder.

Signs of Marijuana Intoxication in Dogs

Recognizing the signs of marijuana intoxication is crucial for prompt action. If your dog has consumed marijuana, be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive drooling
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Seizures
  • Slow heart rate
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary incontinence

My Dog Just Consumed Marijuana, What Should I Do?

If you suspect your dog has consumed marijuana, it’s essential to act quickly. Remove any marijuana from your dog’s reach to prevent further consumption and observe your dog’s behavior and look for signs of intoxication.

Contact your veterinarian immediately and provide them with all the necessary information, including the estimated amount consumed and the time of ingestion.

Your vet will guide you through the next steps, which may involve taking your dog to the clinic to induce vomiting, a gastric lavage, administering activated charcoal, or performing other necessary treatments. Note that it is important not to induce vomiting with any home-remedies or give medication to your dog without the advice or recommendation of your veterinarian.

woman making a phone call
Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

How Do Vets Treat Marijuana Intoxication for Dogs?

The treatment for marijuana intoxication in dogs depends on the severity and the amount consumed. Typically, management for marijuana intoxication involves supportive care and symptomatic treatment to improve your dog’s condition.

In mild cases, your vet may induce vomiting to remove the marijuana from your dog’s system. They may also administer intravenous (IV) fluids, oxygen therapy, anti-nausea medication, or sedatives, depending on their signs. Medications may also be prescribed to address tremors or seizures. In severe cases, hospitalization, sometimes for several days, is necessary.

During this period, it is important to be transparent with your veterinarian and provide them with all the necessary information to help determine the severity and to plan for the appropriate management.

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Factors That Affect Marijuana Intoxication in Dogs

While small amounts of marijuana may not be immediately harmful to dogs, there are several factors that can affect the severity of your dog’s marijuana intoxication.

Size and Weight of the Dog

Due to their size and weight, smaller dogs are more susceptible to the effects of marijuana. This is because the toxic dose is dose dependent, so smaller amounts of marijuana can easily cause intoxication.

Amount Consumed

The higher the amount of marijuana consumed, the more pronounced the effects of intoxication. Small amounts are not typically harmful, but make sure to keep marijuana away from your dog to avoid further consumption.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog sick with vet
Image Credit: Zontica, Shutterstock

Concentration of THC

Products with higher THC concentrations pose a greater risk to dogs. Likewise, ingesting edibles or concentrated forms of marijuana can lead to more severe signs than inhaling secondhand smoke.

Can Dogs Die From Marijuana?

Yes, it is possible. While it’s very rare for dogs to die from marijuana toxicity, it’s essential to take it seriously. The effects of marijuana can be distressing for our furry friends, and the risk of complications, such as aspiration pneumonia or injury due to impaired coordination, should not be overlooked. Seeking veterinary care promptly is crucial to ensure the best outcome for your dog’s health.

Research Involving Marijuana for Dogs

As interest in the potential medical uses of marijuana products grows, so does research on its effects on animals. Several studies have explored the use of cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes in dogs, particularly in managing pain, inflammation, and seizures.

One such study in 2018 found that use of one type of cannabinoid, known as cannabidiol (CBD) oil, provided a significant decrease in pain with no side effects for dogs with osteoarthritis. CBD can be effective at managing your dog’s anxiety and is another compound in marijuana which does not have a psychoactive effect. While there are significant findings involving the use of marijuana for pets in different forms, such as oils, it’s important to note that the research is still in its early stages, and more comprehensive studies are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of marijuana for dogs.

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The FDA has not yet approved the use of CBD or any other hemp-containing products in animals to treat any ailment. If you plan to administer CBD to your pet, you should consult with your veterinarian before doing so.

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Final Thoughts

Marijuana is toxic to dogs, and the reaction they can have when consumed is somehow unpredictable. It’s essential to prioritize their health and well-being if marijuana products are handled around them. Dogs can indeed get high from marijuana, but the effects are harmful. Marijuana intoxication is dangerous for dogs and it should never be given to them intentionally.

As responsible pet owners, it’s our duty to protect our furry friends from potential harm. By understanding the effects of marijuana on dogs and taking appropriate precautions to keep it out of their reach, we can ensure their safety and well-being for a lifetime of wagging tails and wet-nosed adventures.

Featured Image Credit: Claudio A.Neves, Shutterstock

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