Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is the most common and popular illegal drug used in the US. Enthusiasts consider the drug fun, harmless, and therapeutic. There is a large movement for legalization of marijuana and many believe more research should be put into its potential medicinal uses. All of this has led to an increase in the number of dogs exposed to marijuana, both accidental and intentional. Yes, your dog can get high by inhaling marijuana smoke and/or ingesting pot edibles. The difference is, dogs feel “high” much, much more intensely than humans do. Dogs are likely to find any state of altered reality extremely distressing.
Will Dogs Eat Weed?
Yes. Both vets we spoke to said they’ve seen dogs eat both raw leaf marijuana and “edibles,” or foods infused with marijuana. Can dogs get high from eating marijuana? The answer is yes, as well. However, while dogs can get high, it does not mean that it’s okay or that they find the effects of marijuana enjoyable.
Dr. Carly Fox, DVM, staff doctor at Animal Medical Center’s Emergency and Critical Care Service in New York City, explains that, “It’s rarely fatal.” But to reiterate, when a human ingests marijuana, they know what they signed up for. That is not the case with dogs, and they can end up becoming very sick.
Can Dogs Get High?
Yes, dogs can get high from marijuana in a few different ways.
- If your dog ate weed directly by ingesting marijuana leaves and/or buds
- If your dog ate edible products — food laced with marijuana (brownies, cookies, muffins, etc.)
- Secondhand smoke — yes, your dog can get high from inhaling smoke
How Marijuana Affects Dogs
Signs of marijuana intoxication are similar to those seen in humans. Dogs can be exposed to marijuana by breathing secondhand smoke or by ingestion of the drug. They may find and eat the dried leaves, or “buds” of the plant if they are left within reach. However, the most common type of exposure is through ingestion of “edibles,” typically baked goods made with marijuana. Brownies, cookies, muffins, chocolate, and many other foods are increasingly common edibles.
Is CBD safe for pets?
Many people are now treating their pets with CBD oil for issues related to anxiety or misbehavior. But noted New York City-based dog trainer/behavior consultant Drew Watson is not sure it’s a great idea. “The use of CBD oil is exploding in the dog and animal world, just as it is with humans,” he told me. “But there are very few quality studies related to its use; anecdotally, I’ll hear people say ‘my dog did great on CBD,’ and you can go online and find plenty of people saying how great it is, but that’s not the kind of data I’d like to rely on.”RelatedThe science behind giving CBD and cannabis to cats and dogs
He also points out that while the placebo effect doesn’t work on dogs, it can work on their owners. Watson told me about a couple who had a puppy who was mouthing (frequent biting without aggression) excessively and they treated the young dog with CBD oil. When the mouthing stopped, they attributed it to the oil, although many other factors in the dog’s life changed at the same time. One of the owners secretly stopped the CBD treatment and, when the dog continued to improve, revealed it to his partner who agreed that the CBD had not been helping.
While there’s not much evidence that CBD oil is bad for pets, there’s just as little that it’s good for them. It would be wise to consult with a vet before undertaking any such course of treatment.
How to keep pets safe
To prevent pets from being affected by human cannabis use, it’s smart to contain smoking or vaping to a single, well-ventilated room, ideally one that pets don’t frequent. Steam-cleaning upholstered furniture and rugs can help, as can keeping your pets groomed properly. But the most important thing a good pet owner can do is to make sure all of their cannabis products are securely out of the reach of any curious pets.
Can dogs die from marijuana?
They have to ingest a pretty large amount of weed to actually die, Downing said, but it doesn’t necessarily take a lot to have an adverse effect.
“Their time in the emergency room on intravenous fluids and supportive care has varied from one day to three days,” Downing said. Dogs who are more likely to die are those who are small, old, or very sick.
Two dogs have died from ingesting marijuana in the form of cannabis butter, a five-year study done by two Colorado veterinarian hospitals reported. The incidents were both related to marijuana-infused butter, called cannabutter, perhaps because of the process used to make it, which involves heat and alters the compounds.
Should I Consider Using Medical Marijuana for My Dog?
It’s difficult to provide a definitive answer about the medicinal uses of cannabis — for either dogs or humans —due toconflicting federal and state laws and a resulting lack of study.
Researchers believe that the two most active chemicals in marijuana that have medical applications are cannabidiol (CBD), which seems to impart its benefits without causing a “high;” and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which does cause a “high” along with any medical benefits it may produce. Unfortunately, medical studies have been hindered by marijuana’s designation as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), along with the costs and difficulties in procuring marijuana for study. Nonetheless, many people believe that cannabis helps treat various ailments and pains in themselves. Similarly, many people believe that cannabis — specifically the CBD component—offers many benefits for dogs. The following list outlines a few conditions that people feel are alleviated by the use of CBD products in their dogs:
- General pain, including pain from cancer
- Lack of appetite
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Stress and anxiety — including travel anxiety and separation anxiety
- IBD and other inflammatory diseases
- Lupus and other autoimmune disorders
Do note that, again, such claims are not currently backed up by clinical evidence for humans or canines. Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD and THC may help alleviate a variety of conditions, but a great deal of scientific and medical work is still needed.