Dogs and Marijuana

| Happy 4/20 y’all! As perceptions shift and marijuana finds its way into more and more American households, I wanted to write up a blog post about how it relates to dogs! I’ll give you a quick crash course in Cannabis before talking about CBD for dogs and what to do if your dog accidentally eats some marijuana. I’m trying to make this as educational and legitimate a post as possible, so please read the full legal disclaimer below before you begin reading the article!

Legal Disclaimer:

As of this post date, Cannabis is legal for adult (21+) use in 11 states and Washington DC. Click here for a map of Cannabis laws in the United States. This blog post is intended for adult readers living in those states where adult-use is legal. If you do not live somewhere that marijuana is legal, please disregard the entirety of this post – One Cent Ween does not promote illegal or illicit drug use.

The information in this post should not replace any professional legal or medical advice. Do not consume marijuana products if you are under the age of 18!

Remember to keep all marijuana products contained and out of reach from any children or pets in your household!

Cannabis Breakdown: THC vs. CBD

Before we dive into how Cannabis interacts with dogs, let’s talk about how it affects humans. There is a ton of information about this on the internet, so I’ll try to keep my summary it short and sweet.

The first thing you need to understand is that your body interacts with the compounds of marijuana using something called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It’s a natural part of being a human – whether or not you’ve ever consumed marijuana, you have an active ECS. There are two natural compounds (among dozens) found in Cannabis plants – cannabinol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – that interact with your body’s Endocannabinoid System in very different ways.

Even though CBD and THC come from the same plant and have a very similar chemical structure, a tiny disparity in their chemical makeup completely changes the way they affect the human body. THC is a psychoactive compound that binds with CB1 receptors in the brain and produces the euphoric “high” that is primarily associated with marijuana. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, therefore allowing consumers to get the medicinal benefits of marijuana without “getting high.” Many states that do not legally allow the consumption of THC products are starting to allow the sale of CBD products because they do lack the psychoactive compound THC. The presence of THC is what makes marijuana unsuitable for children, but CBD safe for medical use in those under the age of 18.

I think I’ve given you enough of a run down to understand the difference between THC and CBD, at least for the purposes of this article, but if you’re interested in reading more about the differences, please click here. To read about the way marijuana specifically affects pets, please click here.

CBD Products for Pets

There are just about as many options out there now for Cannabis pet products as there are those for humans! CBD can help dogs, cats, horses, and other pets with a wide variety of ailments, including general/separation anxiety, appetite or sleep issues, seizure disorders, and so much more! The most popular ways to give CBD to pets are through infused treats or in droplet form. These are some of our favorite brands!


Treatibles are definitely on our all-time favorites list! Penny gets half of a soft tablet before every flight and they keep her so relaxed without any nervousness. These chews are made with full-spectrum help oil, which means that they contain a lot more of the beneficial cannabinoids found in marijuana (including <0.3% THC) other than just CBD. Treatibles holds many certifications and lab-tests all of their products, so you can feel safe knowing that the dosages are always accurate and the compounds are safe.

Click to Shop

Fur20 Pet

Fur20 Pet is a local pet CBD company based here in San Diego! They come highly recommended by our good furiends, the California Dream Frenchies! It is only available in droplet form, but comes in two sizes and you can always make your own infused treats. Check out the Fur20 Pet website below to learn more about them!

Click to Shop

What to look for when shopping for Cannabis for your pets:

There are a ton of options in stores and online when it comes to cannabis products for pets. Although it’s written by a CBD company obviously pushing their own products, the following list from Cannanine is a great starting point when it comes to choosing a CBD product for your pet:

  1. Always look for a brand or product’s Certificate of Analysis
  2. Choose “Nano-Sized Microemulsion” CBD if you can
  3. Get something with no detectable THC
  4. Only purchase organic hemp products
  5. Low price may be a red flag
  6. Beware of products labeled only as “hemp oil” without mention of CBD
  7. Choose Full-Spectrum Instead of CBD Isolate

Click here to read the full article. I omitted #8 above because I think that infused treats can be just as effective as tinctures if dosed properly. Whatever you buy, be sure to read the dosage chart before giving to your dog. Start with the smallest recommended amount for your pet and give it at least half an hour to kick in before any additional dosage is given.

Note: Though many veterinarians personally advocate the use of CBD (and sometimes low-dose THC) products for pets, they often aren’t legally allowed to recommend it as a medical treatment. If you’re interested in adding a cannabis product to your pet’s treatment plan, please do some preliminary research and discuss all available options with your own veterinarian.

I cannot speak to the legitimacy and/or efficacy of the products listed in the ad block below – you’ll need to cross reference them with this list on your own before purchasing.

Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs

Dogs can and do get high. Since dogs have a lot less endocannabinoid receptors than humans do, it takes a lot less marijuana for them to feel the effects. They can get high from smoke inhalation and marijuana ingestion, but the severity of the effects is directly related to the amount consumed versus the body size of the animal.

If a dog consumes a large amount of marijuana compared to their size, they might experience some or all of the symptoms of marijuana toxicity. It’s important to note that there are very few reported cases of deaths from marijuana toxicity.

Symptoms of marijuana toxicity in dogs include:

  • Lethargy (moving slow, not responsive)
  • Trouble breathing (breathing too fast or struggling to breathe)
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Loss of balance (walking unevenly, twitching, etc.)
  • Incontinence* (urinating uncontrollably)

As far as I’ve gathered from my own research, there are mixed messages on whether or not eating raw marijuana bud/flower can affect dogs. For humans, marijuana has no effect without a reaction to heat (i.e. – smoking, vaping, baking in food, etc), but nobody seems to be sure if it’s the same for dogs. Some dogs have been reported showing signs of marijuana toxicity after eating raw marijuana, but many only report mild gastrointestinal distress. I think it’s probably important to get your dog to a veterinarian if they consume a large amount of raw marijuana, just to be on the safe side.

*Because extreme marijuana toxicity can result in seizures for some pets, it’s important to note that there is an important distinction between the presence of bodily fluids. If your pet is shaking/twitching and urinates (pees) themselves, they’re likely just “too high” to control their bladder – a common symptom of mild marijuana toxicity. If your pet is shaking/twitching and defecates (poops) themselves, they’re more than likely having an actual seizure and need emergency medical care.

Click here to read VCA Hospital’s article on marijuana toxicity in pets.

Hear It From a Vet Tech:

“Honesty from a pet owner is crucial in properly treating your pet for a toxin ingestion. Your veterinarian isn’t going to turn you into the police (if cannabis isn’t legal in your state – I live in Indiana). Veterinarians’ priorities are to save your pet’s life from a toxin that could lead to death. Not informing your vet of cannabis ingestion could cause an unwanted outcome because your pet wouldn’t be able to receive proper treatment. Diagnosing Cannabis ingestion is difficult without a complete medical history and list of clinical signs that your pet is experiencing. There are veterinary tests available using your pet’s urine, but they’re considered impractical due to the time needed to obtain results. Urine drug screening for humans produce faster results, but accuracy of testing is inadequate. Thus, owners giving information of the amount and type of Cannabis ingested is imperative to their pet’s treatment plan.

In 2019, the ASPCA noted a huge jump in calls about Cannabis ingestion after many states legalized Marijuana. Pets can become intoxicated by Cannabis in multiple ways, via secondhand smoke, eating edibles, or ingesting it in any form. A variety of edibles are cause for concern with dogs due to the fact that they smell and taste like regular baked goods. Cannabis ingestion alone is toxic, but many edibles contain chocolate or xylitol (sweetener), which are also toxic. Double the toxicity isn’t good for your pet, especially if your veterinarian doesn’t know how to treat it because you weren’t totally honest. Just like your mother would always tell you, honesty is the best policy!”

– Selena Howard, Veterinary Assistant

Click here for Selena’s dog Mateo’s Instagram Page

Penny’s Trip to the ER

Even though these events occurred over a year ago, I have been hesitant to share this story. The situation really was out of our control, but people on the internet can be so cruel when they misconstrue a story. However, this blog post feels like the perfect time, if ever, to share our story with all of you.

I tried to keep it as short as possible, but it still ended up being pretty long. I know the majority of you are reading this on your phone, so I’m going to make the full story a toggle. You can take the time to read it if you want, but you’re totally welcome to keep scrolling to continue reading this blog post!

Here’s a one-sentence summary in case you don’t feel like reading the full story: We thought Penny was having a seizure and rushed her to the ER in the middle of the night, only to spend $300 to find out that she’d somehow eaten weed (most likely a dropped piece of an edible) somewhere on that evening’s walk.

Before we moved to the house we live in now, we lived in North Park, in a house that was right behind a 7-Eleven convenience store. We used to walk up there with Penny several times a week to get snacks, check the RedBox for new movies, and keep up with Ben’s almond milk addiction. It was just a nice reason for the three of us to get outside for a few minutes in the evening or something to do if we were bored on the weekends. I say all this to reinforce the fact that we walked the route from our house to that 7-Eleven too many times to count. One random Saturday night over a year ago, Ben and I were just hanging out, drinking at home. We walked, with Penny, up to the 7-Eleven to get snacks or more alcohol or whatever it was, then came straight home and got in our hot tub. It was already late and very dark, and Penny wasn’t super interested in being outside while we weren’t paying attention to her, so we left her sleeping on the couch while we were right outside the door in the hot tub. Nothing was out of the ordinary.

I came inside alone to go to bathroom or something and gave her a little love as I walked past her. She didn’t really respond to my touch or voice… which instantly freaked me out. I lifted her a little to pick her up and she started to shake so hard it was almost a full-body twitch, still not making eye contact or generally looking normal. At this point, I start screaming for Ben to come inside. I knew something was wrong and that we needed to get her to a vet, but as I started to wrap her in the towel I’d been wearing, she peed all over herself, while still shaking and still not making eye contact. Now I’m completely freaking out, fully convinced she’s having a seizure. My childhood Dachshund, Sophie, had a few violent seizures towards the end of her long life (one of the main reasons we decided to put her down) and I was having awful flashbacks of that.

It was after midnight on the weekend and both Ben and I had been drinking, but we knew we had to take her to a vet. Even though I was the most physically distraught, I was in the best position to safely drive us, so we quickly changed out of our swimsuits, wrapped Penny tight in another towel, jumped in the car, and headed to the closest 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital. Luckily, it was late at night so there was hardly anyone else on the freeway and the hospital wasn’t far from our house. Unluckily, as we approached our exit, we saw tons of flashing signage saying the northbound exit was closed for overnight construction. At this point, I’m sobbing uncontrollably while trying to drive I know how much time a detour would take. Ben was holding Penny and trying to keep both of us calm, but he was freaking out too. We took the southbound exit and began our detour (which was only a few miles but felt like FOREVER) and finally got to the emergency vet.

I ran into the lobby with Penny wrapped in the towel in my arms, sobbing as I put her on the counter and said, “please help, I think Penny is having a seizure! She’s not responding, she’s twitching and shaking, and she peed all over herself without seeming to notice…” The tech at reception looked at her for a minute and said, “She’s not having a seizure… I think your dog ate some marijuana.” They took Penny to the back anyways and asked Ben and I to wait in the lobby while they triaged her. My mind was racing and I just sat in the lobby and cried. After a few minutes, another tech brought her out wrapped in a towel and handed her to me. They said someone would come out and talk to me in a minute because some critical emergency patients had just arrived, and then walked away. Ben and I were sitting there holding a dazed and shaking Penny, trying to convince ourselves that if it were a real emergency, they would’ve kept Penny in the back and acted with more urgency.

After what felt like hours, but was probably only 10-15 minutes, a vet came out and apologized for the wait. She said that Penny displayed all the classic signs of marijuana toxicity and that she would be okay by the next day. They took her back and gave her an anti-nausea shot and a saline injection under the skin on the back of her neck to slowly re-hydrate her. Our bill was around $300. I was instructed to take her home and keep her calm in a dark and quiet room until she was acting normal again. The next morning around 9 or 10, she was still very lethargic and groggy. She slept all day and was back to her normal self by the evening after the incident.

I know you’re wondering – what exactly did Penny eat? I would give anything to know the answer to that question… My baby girl means the world to me and that was one of the scariest nights of my life. Ben and I both consume marijuana at home – we’re over 21 and it’s completely legal here in California – so I was most scared of telling my family and friends about this incident. I felt like they would never believe that Penny didn’t eat it at our house. The first thing we did after getting home from the emergency vet was double-check our supply – as expected, nothing was out of place. We keep everything out of Penny’s reach and we don’t really buy the kind of edibles that would entice her anyways.

The only thing I can really picture is that one of the vagrants who always loiter outside 7-Elevens was eating edibles and dropped a piece of candy or a large crumb that Penny couldn’t resist picking up and eating. The only good thing that came out of this, besides Penny being totally fine of course, is that we now know what to do if she ever happens to show these same symptoms: keep her calm and comfortable until the scary high feelings pass!

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Weed:

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian or animal/medical professional – the following advice should be used as part of your personal research and should never be used in place of legitimate veterinary counsel

In the case that you really don’t know what your dog ate or how much, like what happened to Penny, it’s probably best to take them to the emergency vet no matter what, just to be safe.

We all know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but the degree of danger they’re in really comes down to the amount they’ve eaten. Signs of chocolate poisoning can take hours to occur. If your dog eats a small amount of an edible or marijuana chocolate compared to their overall body size, they’ll probably be okay. Keep them calm and quiet until the negative effects have subsided. Never intentionally feed regular chocolate, marijuana chocolate, or edibles of any kind to your dog.

If your dog of any size eats a large amount of chocolate, especially with marijuana in it, you need to take them to the emergency vet immediately to have their stomach washed before the toxins are absorbed. Be completely honest with the vet right away so that they can administer the best care to your pet.

It depends how much of the edible your dog actually ate compared to their overall body size. If it was just a little bit, like a gummy bear, they’ll likely show mild symptoms, but honestly they’ll just be super high and therefore scared. Keep them calm and quiet in a dark room until any negative effects subside.

If your dog of any size eats an entire edible or bag of edible candy, take them to the emergency vet and be completely honest about what they’ve eaten so they can induce vomiting and wash the stomach.

Raw Bud or Flower:

As far as I’ve gathered from my own research, there are mixed messages on whether or not eating raw marijuana bud/flower can affect dogs. For humans, marijuana has no effect without a reaction to heat (i.e. – smoking, vaping, baking in food, etc), but nobody seems to be sure if it’s the same for dogs. Some dogs have been reported showing signs of marijuana toxicity after eating raw marijuana, but many only report mild gastrointestinal distress. I think it’s probably important to get your dog to a veterinarian if they consume a large amount of raw marijuana, just to be on the safe side.

Concentrates, wax, or oil:

Considering these are all names for heat-treated marijuana in its strongest form, I think it’s safe to say if your dog eats any considerable amount of concentrates, you should take them to the vet immediately and be honest about what happened up front.

In general, it’s not healthy for pets to inhale marijuana smoke. If you’re going to smoke marijuana inside around your pets, blow the smoke out an open window or door so that it doesn’t accumulate in the room. Don’t blow smoke into your dog’s face or ears. I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t hotbox the car with your pets inside. Dogs (and other pets) DO get high from inhaling marijuana smoke and since they don’t understand what “being high” means, they will likely become very alarmed. 

If your dog accidentally inhales some marijuana smoke:

First of all, take a deep breath – your dog will be okay! Take them into a quiet room with fresh air and comfort them. They’ll probably be scared and need to be kept calm until they no longer feel the effects of the marijuana. There’s no need to take them to the ER or vet unless they’re still acting strange after several hours.

Additional Resources: