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Marijuana is becoming legalized in more states, and it should go without saying that THC-containing products should be stored where dogs can't access them. Still, dogs are curious companions that sniff around the most unexpected places, so accidents can happen.
If you ever discover that your dog ate marijuana, don't panic. This guide will help you both understand the short- and long-term effects of THC consumption on an animal and what to do for immediate treatment.
What Are the Side Effects if a Dog Eats Marijuana?
If a dog does ingest marijuana or THC-containing products, you're probably wondering what type of reaction you'll see. Will your pet act sleepy or overly excitable? Will they get sick or be completely unfazed?
"Dogs will act like they are drunk at first with marijuana and THC," said Sara Ochoa, DVM and veterinary consultant for Dog Lab, in an interview for this article.
Later, they may start vomiting or acting twitchy. Your pet might experience some gastrointestinal issues depending on the product and how much they ingested.
In addition to appearing drunk or twitchy, dogs that ingest marijuana or marijuana products may exhibit some serious side effects — once again, depending on what they ate and how much they consumed. These may include incoordination, drunk walking, tiredness, urinary incontinence (or inability to control urination), seizures, and other neurological symptoms, according to Ochoa. In very rare instances, eating too much marijuana can lead to a coma or be fatal for a dog.
The ASPCA lists marijuana as a plant that's toxic to dogs. They report that eating weed may cause your dog to experience:
- Prolonged depression
- Hypersalivation — producing a high, abnormal amount of saliva
- Dilated pupils
- Low blood pressure
- Low body temperature
How to Help a Dog Who Ate Marijuana
If you know that a dog ate marijuana, or if they're experiencing any of these side effects, it's time to take action.
Ochoa recommends bringing your pet to a veterinarian immediately instead of taking a wait-and-see approach. "It is best to go to your veterinarian, especially if it was a large amount [of marijuana] or a small dog. This could potentially be life-threatening," she said. "The earlier you seek veterinary attention, the better."
Can Eating Marijuana Cause Any Long-Term Health Effects for Dogs?
"Usually, once a dog recovers from ingesting marijuana, there are not many long-term effects seen," according to Ochoa. "However, if your dog has a seizure from ingesting marijuana, then there could be life-long brain damage or more seizures." Your vet will be able to tell you, based on your dog's exposure and reaction, what to expect in regard to short- and long-term effects.
To avoid ever having to worry about your dog consuming any marijuana, your best bet is to store marijuana and THC-containing products well out of reach from your pet. Preventing your dog from eating marijuana intended for humans can also keep them safe from some serious side effects.
If your pet does happen to get into your products, make sure you take them to the vet for treatment right away.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform — and even transform — its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in creative writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her here.