The increase in states legalizing marijuana makes weed (marijuana) not only more accessible to humans, but also increases instances of a dog ingesting it.
Dog ate weed? Don’t lie about it.
Dr. Anna Robinson, a small animal veterinarian in Texas, stresses that you need to be completely honest with everyone when speaking about the issue.
“No veterinary professional worth anything cares if you are illegally (or legally) in possession [of marijuana],” she says. “It’s against our code of ethics and AVMA policy to report you — unless you are involved in an active animal abuse case — as you are seeking treatment for your pet.”
Instead, keeping this knowledge frustrates and angers a veterinarian, who will run more tests as she ascertains what’s in your dog’s system. This increases treatment time, cost (due to increased lab work) and potentially worsening symptoms.
What happens if my dog eats weed?
Signs and severity differ based on how much weed your dog ate, what type of weed and how long it’s been in his system. Vet-approved amounts of CBD are safe for dogs, while THC is dangerous. If your dog consumed a baked product made with THC, there could be other harmful ingredients, such as herbs, chocolate, nuts or xylitol that are extremely toxic to dogs.
Here are common initial signs of THC to look for:
- Pupil dilation
- Ataxia (drunk-like walking)
- Rapid behavior fluctuations that are atypical for your pet (i.e., acute aggression, depression, disorientation, bizarre behaviors, etc.)
- Excessive salivation
In the later stages after your dog ate weed, you might see:
- muscle tremors
- hyperesthesia (extreme sensitivity to external stimuli)
If you realize within an hour of consumption, vomiting can be induced, preferably at a veterinary practice). Dr. Robinson stresses calling your veterinarian for dosing and recommendations for inducing vomiting.
What to do if your dog eats weed
If your dog is showing clinical signs, or you saw your dog consuming weed, go to a veterinarian for evaluation immediately. “If ever in doubt it never hurts to bring your pet to a veterinarian, especially in this case, as the difference between having to wait in a dark room for symptoms to subside and needing IVs and decontamination is a deceptively short amount of time or exposure,” says Dr. Robinson.
Your veterinarian will also ask that you call a poison control line, which will assign you a case number and assist the veterinarian (either your regular vet or emergency vet).
A poison control representative will ask:
- for a credit or debit card number up front
- who you are and whether you are a legal owner of the pet you are calling about
- for your pet’s signalment (breed, age, sex and if spayed/neutered)
- if you’re in route to a facility
- what the pet’s current symptoms are and may direct you to symptom specific first aid based on your response.
- what the pet consumed, specifically product details, such as if the marijuana was in edible or cream form (i.e., is there chocolate or xylitol involved), whether subcomponents are listed as an ingredient (non-THC cannabinoids which act on similar receptors) and if the weed/CBD has a cut agent (meaning, some other herb, herbal oil extract or another legal or illegal drug).
“The latter we see especially frequently with CBD and weed popularity,” says Dr. Robinson. “Most veterinarians do not request poison control case numbers unless there is another toxicant involved, but the standard practice can vary between veterinary hospitals.”
Finally, you’ll get a case number and potential contact information for your veterinarian to use.
A final note: Swift action is key, but honesty and having detailed information are equally important when it comes to weed poisoning with your dog.