Marijuana Toxicity

Marijuana ingestion  by dogs is becoming more and more common. In most cases, the owners have no idea where the pet may have gotten the marijuana and don’t even realize their pet has eaten it.  In most scenarios, the dog is on a hike with its owner or on a walk in a park and an hour or so later, begins acting strangely. The owners are panicked, not understanding what is going on with their beloved pet. We receive the phone call that their dog is “acting strange”, stumbling, incontinent, and drooling. Every staff member at the clinic is familiar with this scenario and we all know the most likely suspect: marijuana.

Common symptoms of marijuana toxicity include:

  • Loss of balanceMarijuana Toxicity 4
  • Incontinence
  • Drooling
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Confusion
  • Agitation or excitability
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Rapid breathing

In Colorado, we have an additional poisoning risk for dogs.  Since marijuana has become legal, veterinarians across Colorado routinely see dogs for marijuana toxicity.  Marijuana edibles are more potent these days and although it is unlikely that a dog could die from ingesting marijuana, it is still a possibility.   If you have marijuana around the house (legal or otherwise) please treat it like a drug and keep it out of your dog’s reach.

Even if you are sure there is no marijuana in your house, that doesn’t mean your dog didn’t find some outside. Remember, they have a really good sense of smell and if it’s around, they will find it. As a matter of fact, many patients we see have ingested the feces of a human who has consumed marijuana. Did you know that 35% of THC that is ingested gets passed through the feces and can cause toxicity in the unfortunate poo-eater.  So if your dog suddenly appears very drowsy and uncoordinated and may be hyper sensitive to noise and touch and especially if they start to dribble urine, call us right away. Depending on the severity of the toxicity, the effects can last for a few days until it has passed thru the entire GI tract.  With early treatment we can reduce the amount the dog absorbs and shorten the side effects.

If you suspect your pet has ingested marijuana or may have possibly gotten into chocolate, foods with xylitol sweeter, a rodenticde or any lawn and garden product, please contact us immediately! (970-879-5273)

The ASPCA’s Poison Control Center also has a 24 hour hotline at 888-426-4435 and since 1978, they have handled more than 2 million cases!

For more information, check out our client handout: Marijuana Toxicity

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