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As more states (and countries) legalize the use of marijuana, smoking this substance is less taboo. But will lighting up a joint affect your dog’s health?

As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, it leaves dog owners wondering whether it is safe to smoke weed around their canine companion. While cannabis for canines is unlikely to become common, it is possible for dogs to get high and an accidental overdose could be fatal. Keep reading to learn more about the effects of marijuana on dogs and how to protect your pup.

What Happens When Dogs Ingest Marijuana?

Your dog is capable of getting high from cannabis in the same ways you are. He can ingest the leaves or buds directly, consume food laced with marijuana, or inhale the smoke. The way your dog’s body responds to marijuana depends on numerous factors including his size and the amount ingested. It only makes sense that a puppy would have a more severe reaction to a dose of marijuana than a larger and older dog, but any dog is at risk of an overdose if they consume too much.

If your dog is only exposed to small amount of marijuana, he might develop symptoms of paranoia such as panting, pacing, or other signs of nervousness. With higher doses, your dog may develop other symptoms such as the following:

  • Lethargic behavior
  • Trouble breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Urinary incontinence

There is relatively little scientific study regarding the effects of marijuana on dogs, and your dog’s reaction may not be what you expect. If he accidentally ingests even a small dose, you may want to take him to the vet just to be safe.

What About Secondhand Smoke?

No responsible dog owner would knowingly give their dog a potentially harmful substance. Even if you don’t actually feed your dog marijuana, he could be harmed by secondhand smoke. According to Dr. Eric Barchas, your dog is unlikely to suffer negative effects from a small amount of marijuana smoke, but smoke in general could bother your dog’s sensitive respiratory system. Smoke inhalation could irritate his lungs and either cause or exacerbate respiratory problems like asthma.

If your dog ingests marijuana or inhales a lot of smoke, he could develop signs of toxicity or marijuana poisoning. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the risk of marijuana poisoning in dogs is moderate to severe – particularly with ingestion. Signs of a life-threatening reaction include severe depression, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, hyperactivity, vocalization, and seizures. Should your dog develop any of these symptoms, contact the Pet Poison Helpline or take your dog directly to an emergency veterinarian.

One final thing to mention about cannabis and canines is the use of medical marijuana for dogs. This topic is hotly debated. There are people who administer their own medical marijuana to their pets and some pot shops even sell marijuana-laced dog treats. Because there is so little research about the effects of marijuana on dogs (either good or bad), it is best to avoid the practice entirely.

If you choose to smoke or ingest marijuana, do so safely and leave your dog out of the equation. The safest bet is to do it outside where your dog won’t be exposed to secondhand smoke.

As more states (and countries) legalize the use of marijuana, smoking this substance is less taboo. But will lighting up a joint affect your dog’s health?

8 Things You Need To Know About Dogs And Marijuana

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To legalize or not to legalize, that is the question. But it is just one of many questions we need to ask as dog owners in a country where the status of cannabis is in flux.

While we cannot predict whether your dog will be as excited about the legalization of pot as you are, we can help you better understand the possible items to think through before administering it to your canine companion.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions surrounding dogs and marijuana and researched them to provide answers for you.

Article Overview

Cannabis vs Marijuana

The language used to describe the cannabis plant varies widely because it has many nicknames (marijuana, weed, pot, reefer, ganja and Mary Jane). The botanical name for a hemp plant is cannabis but we may use these terms interchangeably.

Can Dogs Get High?

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Yes, dogs can get high a few different ways.

  1. Ingesting marijuana leaves/buds directly
  2. Ingesting food laced with marijuana (cookies, butter, etc.)
  3. Secondhand smoke

What Happens If A Dog Eats Weed?

What happens if a dog eats marijuana? The dog gets high. And, if a dog ingests too much, then it could die. This video shows the marijuana effects on dogs and what you should do if your dog gets into your edibles.

What Does Marijuana Do To Dogs?

Size plays a significant role in how cannabis effects dogs. If two dogs—one 8 years old, 75 pounds and the other 12 weeks old, 3 pounds—get into the same size stash, the smaller dog will have a different reaction than the larger dog.

Some dogs also become more “paranoid” after getting high; this is often shown by them panting and pacing. It’s a challenge because you can’t determine which dogs will have this reaction until they are high.

How Does Marijuana Affect Dogs?

Below is a list of the affects of marijuana on dogs.

  • Lethargic
  • Breathing problems
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Loss of balance
  • Urinary incontinence

Is Marijuana Bad For Dogs? (Research Studies)

Is marijuana safe for dogs? There are cases where some dogs have had longer lifespans thanks to the use of marijuana. Despite the opening for funding due to a hemp provision in a 2014 farm bill, however, there is very little research that has been done to date. For this reason, we are unable to provide you with 100% accuracy as to whether marijuana is bad, good or safe for your dog.

Since 2016, there have been two clinical studies by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist and assistant professor at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. She studied the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in dogs with arthritis or epilepsy.

Is Cannabis Poisonous To Dogs?

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the risk of cannabis poisoning in dogs is moderate to severe.

If your dog accidentally eats marijuana, you should call your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control immediately. The ingestion of too much marijuana can be life-threatening.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Severe depression
  • Walking drunk
  • Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Low heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Coma
  • Hyperactivity
  • Vocalization
  • Seizures

What About Medical Marijuana For Dogs?

Cannabis for dogs is a hot topic of debate. Some people are administering medical marijuana to their dogs on their own, while some pot shops are even selling dog treats laced with pot.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of research, it’s unclear the proper dosage amounts for dogs, so administering it yourself can be dangerous to your dog.

Different types of weed and cannabis oil for dogs has similar effects on dogs as they do to humans—increased appetite and decreased nausea. Medical marijuana has provided dogs relief for arthritis and cancer, but it is still not approved by the AVMA, ASPCA or any other organization.

Is CBD Oil Okay For Your Dog?

Yes, it is if it made with no more than 0.3% THC. This is the only kind that you will find when you buy from the companies that we recommend. You can read more about the companies and products that may help your pet most in our CBD oils review.

Infographic: Dogs & Marijuana Guide

Learn more about marijuana and dogs in our infographic:

More Research Needed

While we aren’t saying marijuana is bad for your dog, we aren’t saying it’s good either. There just isn’t enough research on dogs and weed right now. The dosage amount for dogs is different than it is for humans, so it can be a scary result if your dog has too much. We warn you to be careful and keep your dogs safe. We know for sure that these foods should be avoided, so reference it in case your dog ingests something else it shouldn’t.

Warning:

It can be dangerous to give your dog marijuana. If your dog needs it for medical reasons, be sure to follow your vet’s protocol closely. As with any drug, giving your dog more than recommended, or giving it to your dog when it’s not necessary, is irresponsible.

Do you think your dog needs medical marijuana?

The information contained in this article and website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional safety advice; it is provided for educational purposes only.

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories, and more. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times’ Wirecutter, Reader’s Digest, Forbes, People, Woman’s World, and Huffington Post.

Kimberly’s natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs. Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child.

In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly’s research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today. One of Kimberly’s favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds, and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

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We aren't saying marijuana is good or bad for your dog. What we're saying is there are some precautions to take. Read this article to learn more.