What to do if your dog ingests marijuana

MJ dog

Some dogs won’t eat anything that isn’t in their bowl. Other dogs will eat anything and everything in front of them, puke in the corner, then come back for seconds. These particular puppies are crafty, sniffing out anything that seems even remotely food-like and chewing it up with abandon—and as medical marijuana use increases among Canadian adults, so does the likelihood that your pooch will take a bite (or six) out of someone’s stash.

If you have some Mary Jane in the house (or cottage guests who might partake), here’s what you need to know about dogs and marijuana.

Dogs can be exposed to pot in a lot of different ways

Eating pot brownies, chewing on a bag of buds, breathing second-hand smoke or (yuck) eating human feces are all ways your dog can ingest marijuana—so don’t think that your pup is safe just because they don’t have easy access. Also be wary of topical applications—if your dog licks an area that’s been treated with topical marijuana, they might just get a dose.

Marijuana can have serious effects on your dog

Symptoms of marijuana ingestion include lethargy, breathing problems, agitation, low blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, loss of balance, and incontinence. Symptom severity depends on the amount eaten as well as the size, weight, and age of the dog. High doses—more than 3 grams of THC per kilogram of weight—especially in small or elderly dogs, can be fatal.

If you think your dog is stoned, take them to the vet

If your dog is acting strange—or stranger than usual, anyway—and you think that pot may be to blame, take them to the vet. Because a compound in chocolate is toxic to dogs, this is especially important if Fido has eaten a pan of pot brownies. Cannabutter (butter infused with cannabis) can also be particularly dangerous.

Chances are, the symptoms of marijuana ingestion can be managed at home, but it’s best to get a professional’s opinion. They may decide to induce vomiting or give intravenous fluids. And don’t fib to the vet about what your pup has eaten—effective treatment depends on them knowing the facts.

If you can’t get to a vet right away, try these tips

Feed your dog activated charcoal, which will help absorb toxins as they move through the digestive system. You can find activated charcoal at a drugstore or feed store, and it’s a good thing to have in a pet first aid kit generally. Reduce stimulation, especially if your dog is agitated—put them in a quiet, dark room, talk to them softly and keep noise to a minimum. And encourage them to drink fluids, especially if they vomit or have diarrhea.

Make sure everything is stored safely

If you regularly keep cannabis in the house or cottage, store it in an airtight Mason jar with a good lid, and store it in a cool, dark place—the fridge is great. Edibles should be stored in the fridge as well—mostly because it’s a lot harder for your dog to get at it. Let your guests know that if they are going to get blitzed, they can’t leave anything lying around, even on top of a high counter—you’ve probably seen the lengths your pet will go to to score a tasty treat. And be careful what you and guests throw out—make sure to seal up any leftovers or snippings, and dispose of them in a container your dog can’t get into.