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?Mary Jane, the happy herb, weed, grass or simply put, marijuana is known under a variety of nicknames, and we are all familiar with its effects. Some people think it’s fun, others see it as wrong or silly. Whatever the case, marijuana is a common thing today, legal in some places, and illegal in others. As more states (and countries) legalize the use of marijuana, smoking this substance is becoming less of a taboo. You might have smoked a bit yourself. Every adult can decide for themselves, but will lighting up a joint affect your dog’s health? This is the question we’re trying to answer in the following article, so read on. Marijuana use is becoming legal in more places than it ever has been, and even looking at being a decriminalized act in the US. 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. So, in a way, you were right to worry and ask yourself this logical question. Related: How Second-Hand Smoke Affects Your DogWhat Happens When Dogs Ingest Marijuana? We all know that the psychoactive effects of marijuana are popularly called “getting high”. But if you think being “high” is fun – it might not be the same for your pet. 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. For example, if a small Chihuahua eats a large piece of weed infused brownie, the effects won’t be the same if that same piece is eaten by a Great Dane. However, this does not mean that either should consume weed – in any amount. Related: Legalization Of Marijuana Has Unexpected Side Effects For PetsIf your dog is only exposed to a small amount of marijuana, he might develop symptoms of paranoia such as panting, pacing, or other signs of nervousness. A clear sign of this state are enlarged irises and fidgety movements. With higher doses, your dog may develop other symptoms such as the following:Lethargic behaviorTrouble breathingDrop in blood pressureAbnormal heart beatLoss of coordination or balanceUrinary incontinenceThese effects are the most obvious, and can appear soon after ingestion of weed. There is relatively little scientific study regarding the effects of marijuana on dogs, and your dog’s reaction may not be what you expect. It could look like something altogether different than what we wrote above. But either way, you know what to do – if you spot any odd behavior and suspicious symptoms, it is best to react quickly. Get your pet to the vet and do a checkup. What About Secondhand Smoke? No responsible dog owner would knowingly give their dog a potentially harmful substance. Of course, there are those moments of carelessness when the dog could ingest it on their own. But 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. So, if you and your friends gather for a night of some fun and smoking weed, the collective smoke cloud could be harmful to your pet and its respiratory system, so you’d do well to make sure they are safe and distanced from the smoke. 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. Of course, it goes without saying that this is not exclusive to marijuana smoke alone – any type of smoke can be bad for your pet in large quantities, be it from cigars, cigarettes, other drugs, or fires. Symptoms of Marijuana Toxicity in DogsDifferent dogs will manifest the symptoms of marijuana toxicity in different ways. As we said, a lot of it depends on the dog breed, size, the amount consumed, and so on. Generally speaking, a dog who is suffering from marijuana toxicity will show depressed behavior, urinary incontinence, vomiting, tremors, bradycardia and ataxia (they’ll be wobbly). Other general weirdness can occur as well. That said, about a quarter of dogs who are exposed to cannabis may see signs of increased stimulation and high heart rate with possible agitation. If your dog suffers severe marijuana toxicity, his blood pressure could also drop so low he could go into a coma.Toxicity differs because dog size and health differ. The size of your dog and how much marijuana he’s exposed to will be the biggest determining factor in how sick he could be. For instance, if they were to eat an ‘edible’ (particularly chocolate), they may suffer far greater side effects than if they were to be exposed to second-hand smoke. In the case of exposure, size does matter. Either way, if you suspect that they ingested marijuana in any way, be on the lookout for any suspicious symptoms and generally abnormal behavior. Of course, seek out the help of a veterinarian at once. Take PrecautionsAs more of us live where marijuana is legal, or even in households where someone is choosing to partake in medicinal or recreational marijuana use, it’s important you protect your dog. Keep all marijuana out of paws’ reach and particularly keep any edibles that may have chocolate or sugar out of the way.Also, if you use marijuana recreationally and are considering becoming a dog owner, it might not be the best decision at this time. When high, your reactions might be slower, and it doesn’t combine well with mischievous pets – there is the greater risk that your pet will somehow ingest the substance or be exposed to smoke. The best precaution to take, is after all – not to consume marijuana while being around a dog. Still, if you have to do it, for example due to medical reasons, make sure that the substance is stored in a safe place where your pet cannot reach it. Also, ventilate your house when smoking, and try to keep your dog as far away from smoke as possible.What About Medical Marijuana For Doggos?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 research continues to be done looking at effects, we’re of the “Better to be safe than sorry,” belief, and especially with our best friends.