Did you know that cannabis is harmful to dogs? If you are worried about your dog eating edible cannabis, do not panic because many vets have encountered this situation before.
Edibles and dogs
Many dogs have a huge appetite, and when you have food on the table, they certainly want to try it.
While it can be easy to give in to your dog’s constant begging, you should not allow your dog to have any of your edibles.
Just like humans, dogs also have cannabinoid receptors in their bodies (1). Cannabinoid receptors are tiny proteins on the surface of your cells that interact with the cannabis compounds THC and CBD.
Except dogs have more of these receptors than humans, making them more sensitive to cannabis. Due to this increased sensitivity, dogs quickly become sick from ingesting just one tiny edible.
Another contributing factor is that edible cannabis is highly concentrated since many edible products are made with THC or CBD oil. Therefore, just one edible alone might have a dose that is way too high for dogs.
However, dogs will not stop at just one edible. If they have access to the entire lot, they will keep eating until every edible is gone.
For example, one study discovered a case where a dog ate an entire 8-inch square pan of edible brownies (2). Dogs are very resourceful animals and will certainly find a way to steal food when their humans are not watching.
Unfortunately, the dog did not survive, and this highlights the fact that dogs can get themselves into all sorts of trouble when you least expect it to happen.
Since the legalization of cannabis, vets have seen an increasing number of pets arriving at the emergency clinic with cannabis poisoning. Vets often refer to this event as marijuana intoxication.
What should I do if my dog has eaten an edible?
If you suspect your dog has eaten an edible, you should seek help immediately, even if you are uncertain about whether it actually happened.
Many people feel embarrassed over this situation, and if you are worried about what other people might think, do not stress.
These cases are not uncommon anymore, and a vet’s main priority is to make sure your dog is well again. Vets know that these situations are unintentional, and you will not get into any trouble.
Essentially any edible product, including cannabis gummies, can be toxic for dogs. Although vets say that edible products that contain chocolate and cannabis are the worst.
Chocolate is also toxic to dogs. Hence, when two toxic compounds are combined in one product, it can have worse effects.
If you are using cannabis gummies, there is a very low chance any chocolate will be in them. Nonetheless, if you also happen to have chocolate around, it might pay to check that your dog has not eaten any of that as well.
Symptoms of marijuana intoxication in dogs
In most cases, dogs ingest edibles while their owners are not watching. Because of this, you might not know that your dog has eaten an edible until symptoms start to appear.
Early symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to motion and sound
- Tremors, shaking, or twitching
- Urinary incontinence or dribbles
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive saliva or drooling from the mouth
Severe symptoms include:
- Irregular heart rate
- Irregular breathing
If your dog does not get treatment from a vet immediately, it could die of heart failure or respiratory arrest after displaying these symptoms.
Some dogs also require support from mechanical ventilation because they can no longer breathe on their own until they recover.
Vets cannot outline a specific dose of cannabis that is dangerous to dogs because different breeds react differently. Another aspect to consider is that smaller dogs would not need as much as larger dogs to become unwell.
What to do if your dog has taken cannabis
If you have seen your dog eat an edible, the first thing you do is call the poison control center. The poison control center can provide information on pets as well.
The poison control center will ask you which type of cannabis your dog has ingested and how much. From here, they might refer you to a vet clinic if they think it is necessary.
Instead of ringing the poison control center, you could take your pet straight to the vet clinic if you would prefer this option. The vet will also ask you which type of cannabis your dog has ingested and how much.
You will also need to note when the incident occurred and inform your vet about any medications your dog is currently taking. This information will help the vet provide the best treatment possible.
Transporting your dog
When calling the poisons center or making other arrangements, make sure your dog is lying in the recovery position (3). To do this, put your dog on its side and ensure that its airways are open.
The recovery position for dogs prevents them from choking should they vomit and helps them breathe more easily.
If you are going to the vet, you will need to transport your dog in the car. Before moving your dog to the car, make sure they have room to lay down on the back seat. Try to keep them in the recovery position if you can.
Do not panic or rush while driving because your dog might be feeling nauseous or could vomit. Having a container nearby might also be helpful in case your dog is sick before making it to the vet clinic.
While seeing your dog unwell can be very stressful, try not to panic. Once you get to the vet clinic, they will help your dog get better.
How to prevent your dog from eating edibles
Always ensure that edibles are in a dog-proof container when you are not using them. For example, a jar or a container with a screw lid would stop your dog from getting to your edibles.
You could also keep your edibles in the fridge or on the top shelf of your pantry so that your dog cannot reach them.
Also, be cautious of what your dog is doing while making your edibles. For example, if you cannot turn your back for one second without your dog trying to swipe food, then it might pay to keep your dog in another room until you have put everything away.
If you live with other people or invite guests around, make sure they do not give any edibles to your dog, either. Some people are unaware of the potential dangers and might think they are being nice to your dog by giving it a yummy treat.
You must also keep any ingredients such as THC oil or CBD oil away from your pet. If you have any ingredients leftover after making your gummies, ensure they are stored somewhere safe as well.
Putting these measures in place will be good for peace of mind and will keep your dog safe.
What about cats?
You will also need to keep your edibles away from other pets you have as well. Cats can also suffer from marijuana toxicity (4).
Although dogs are probably the more likely ones to consume edibles, there is still a risk of cats doing the same.
Is CBD safe for dogs?
Some studies have looked at the therapeutic benefits of CBD for dogs and other pets. However, it would be best if you only gave your pet a treatment that your vet recommends. All types of cannabis are potentially toxic to dogs. As a precaution, you should always ask a vet first before giving your dog any medicine or supplements.
When a dog eats edibles, it can become very unwell. Always seek medical advice immediately if this has happened. Being aware of the symptoms is also helpful if your dog has managed to eat an edible while you were not looking.
Do not panic if this happens, as these cases are not uncommon to vets anymore.