Marijuana Poisoning in Dogs, How Bad is it? Is it Lethal?

Dogs have a way of eating the exact things that they’re not supposed to. From dark chocolate to onions, many foods that are completely harmless to humans can have disastrous consequences for canines. Marijuana can be one of these.

In states where weed has become legal, veterinarians have witnessed a significant increase in the number of dogs admitted to them for marijuana poisoning. For one, the Pet Poison Helpline in Oregon has witnessed a 448 percent increase in cannabis-related cases over the past six years.

While often harmless and occasionally beneficial, cannabis can often come with unforeseen risks when consumed in large amounts by dogs. So this begs the question, marijuana poisoning in dogs, how bad is it? Is it lethal?

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Don’t Drop the Roach

A stoned pooch, a really high dog looking at you
Dogs, unlike humans, can get high from eating raw cannabis leaves, stems, and buds… so think twice about tossing that roach! (image via Mashable)

Dogs, like humans, are able to get high on pot. However, our species don’t necessarily get high in the same ways. Canines are much more susceptible to the effects of cannabis and feel it far more strongly than us humans. This is because dogs are more sensitive to the intoxicating effects of THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana. Thus what might be a mild dose for a human, can be incapacitating for a dog.

Equally as intriguing, is that dogs don’t have to smoke… Or bake their own brownies to get high. Canines can get high, simply from eating raw buds or stems of the cannabis plant.

So next time you’re taking Fido for a walk, you might want to think twice about tossing the roach. He might just get higher than that time I skipped band practice

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What Happens to Dogs After Consumption of Cannabis?

High dog meme, dog high on weed
Canines can exhibit some bizarre behavior after consuming too much cannabis… It pays dividends to be able to recognize the symptoms. (image via Pleated Jeans)

The first signs to be vigilant of in a dog who has eaten weed, are profound behavioral changes.

Dr. Curt Nitschelm, a vet at the Redmond Veterinary Clinic says that these behaviors can range greatly from “blase all the way up to non-responsive”.

Over intoxicated pups will display sever odd and distinct behaviors that one should keep an eye out for… Especially if you’re son or daughter has taken a sudden interest in taking your dog for long walks.

“They might be a little bit more depressed or agitated; they’ll walk around like they’re drunk… Also pretty classic is they seem to be dribbling urine.”
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Can They Die?

As in humans, marijuana cannot directly kill dogs. However, because of their extreme sensitivity to THC, effects in dogs who consume cannabis can be quite extreme. Breathing might be slowed down to ineffective respiration rates and in some cases, a coma might even insue.

Shockingly, death can occur in dogs as a result of cannabis consumption. In humans, weed has been utilized to great effect as an anti-nausea treatment. However, in high amounts in dogs, weed can actually cause severe, prolonged vomiting.

Veterinarian Dr. Adam Stone described what can occur in the direst of cases.

“A lot of people think that you can use marijuana in dogs to treat them for nausea, and it actually causes pretty severe nausea in almost all of them. What can be life-threatening is that they get very sedate, and they can vomit and breathe in that vomit and aspirate, and get a pretty horrific pneumonia.”
Stone also says that in high doses, marijuana can cause seizures and head trauma within dogs. This is once again, a complete contrast to cannabis’ effects on humans. The substance has shown promise in the treatment of both traumatic brain injuries and epilepsy
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Should You Smoke Up With Your Pupper?

The short answer is no. Until more is understood about dosing and the effects of THC on dogs, refraining from giving your dog marijuana might be the safest thing to do. However with new weed products constantly emerging in this very young industry… Perhaps specialized, recreational cannabis treats for dogs might not be far around the corner.

If your dog does become too intoxicated on cannabis, take them to your nearest veterinary clinic immediately. As hilarious as it may be, marijuana poisoning in dogs is no laughing matter.

By: Stefan Hosko
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