Marijuana Ingestion In Dogs

Marijuana/Cannabis (weed, pot, etc) consists of the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant.  Cannabis is considered a controlled substance which indicates that it is addictive and can be misused.  Cannabis contains many compounds including compounds called cannabinoids.  THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.  Cannabis is frequently incorporated into a variety of edible products, such as cookies, brownies, gummy bears, cereals and beef jerky.  Due to the natural variations in potency of differing marijuana plants, the THC content of marijuana edibles can vary tremendously.

Marijuana toxicity in dogs generally occurs following accidental ingestion of marijuana plant material or marijuana edibles.  Mild intoxications can also occur in dogs from exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke.

Clinical signs of marijuana toxicity in dogs include lethargy, ataxia (difficulty walking and standing), vomiting, tremors, dilated or constricted pupils, low body temperature, dribbling urine, disorientation, hyperesthesia (jumping at small movements or sounds), seizures and drooling.  In severe cases, coma or death may occur.  Your veterinarian may also tell you that the heart rate and blood pressure are extremely low.  The classic presentation of a dog that ingested marijuana is one that is depressed and dribbling urine.

If your dog eats any marijuana or marijuana edibles, he should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.  If your veterinarian asks about the possibility of marijuana ingestion, it is recommended to be honest so that your veterinarian can treat appropriately.  Your veterinarian will likely check your dog’s blood pressure and electrocardiogram (assess for heart arrhythmias).  There is also an over-the-counter human urine test kit that can be used to detect marijuana metabolites.  However, it is not very accurate in dogs.

If your dog is symptomatic, it is not recommended to induce vomiting.  Your dog could aspirate and develop pneumonia.  It is always best to seek the advice of your veterinarian before inducing vomiting at home.

For a mild intoxication, your veterinarian will likely administer fluids under the skin or hospitalize and give fluids IV.  Your dog will also likely receive a medication called activated charcoal to help adsorb any of the THC present in the intestinal tract.  This medication is black like charcoal.  When it comes out the back end, it is black as well.

If your dog ingests a larger amount of marijuana, your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization.  They will place your dog on IV fluids and monitor heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.  Medication to stop seizure activity may also be required.  If a really severe ingestion occurs, your veterinarian may recommend an infusion of intralipids while hospitalized.

Most dogs recover from marijuana ingestion.  However, it is best to keep these products away from your dog.  Keep them in an upper cupboard or a locked drawer.

CBD products are readily available now.  CBD products are not supposed to contain THC.  However, depending upon the source, these products may contain some THC and in varying amounts.  There needs to be more research in the veterinary community before a dosing regimen is established.  If you choose to try CBD products on your dog, it is recommended to check with your veterinarian first.  It is also recommended to research the company making the CBD product to assess for purity.  If any questions at all, check with your veterinarian.

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