Is Smoking Weed Around Dogs Dangerous?
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?
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. 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.
Symptoms of Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs
Different dogs will manifest the symptoms of marijuana toxicity in different ways. 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). 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 in 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.
As 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.
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.