Marijuana & Dogs

Lindsey ZimmermanDog Health, Dog Safety, Senior Dogs

Last month we discussed the therapeutic effects of CBD (cannabidiol, the medical component) for dogs. Although not much long-term research has been conducted, it has shown promising results in fighting the effects of cancer, pain, joint swelling, arthritis and more.

However, this is not true of marijuana itself.

The cannabis oil recommended for dogs does not contain (THC – tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the hallucinogenic component of marijuana. However, the marijuana we are talking about today is the marijuana that humans smoke.

Effects of Marijuana on Dogs
Yes, dogs can get high from either ingesting THC or from second hand smoke. Although the effects will vary depending on the size of the dog, in high quantities it could be life-threatening for your dog.

Let’s look at the facts:


  • According to Trupanion, a major pet insurance provider, the average cost to treat marijuana toxicity in dogs is around $500, and the Trupanion policy has paid nearly $180,000 in suspected marijuana toxicity claims to date.
  • Trupanion saw marijuana toxicity cases per capita increase by 50% from 2014 to 2015. Colorado and Washington (where recreational marijuana is legal) have seen the highest cases of marijuana toxicity in dogs.
  • The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center saw a 144% increase in pet marijuana overdose calls from 2010 to 2015.
  • When a dog gets high, he may pace and pant. Other effects of marijuana ingestion can include:
    • Lethargy
    • Lowered blood pressure
    • Loss of coordination
    • Incontinence
    • Breathing problems
    • Dilated pupils
    • Coma
    • Hyperactivity
    • Seizures
    • Easily startled by sudden sounds
  • Secondhand smoke can cause a “contact” high in dogs. If a dog has any respiratory issues to begin with, inhaling second hand smoke can make the condition worse.
  • Marijuana edibles (candy, brownies) that contain chocolate, can be doubly bad for your dog since chocolate alone is poisonous for a dog.

What to Do
If your dog is displaying negative signs from ingesting marijuana with TCH, take them to your veterinarian immediately. Your vet may induce vomiting or depending on the extent, have to set you dog up with an IV. Don’t be afraid of your vet. His/her job is not to judge you, or report you, but to get the best treatment for your dog. If you are not honest with your vet, testing for other poisons may have to be conducted and these can be expensive.

Even if recreational and medical marijuana are legal in your state, there is no legal mechanism by which a vet can prescribe CBD oil. Why? Marijuana and even marijuana extracts are still classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency, making it illegal to prescribe.

The best advice at this time is to do your homework. Pet parents who want to give their dog CBD oil should talk with their veterinarian, or a veterinarian who has experience with pets being treated with cannabis oil about proper dosage and reputable manufacturers. Obtaining medical cannabis for your pet all depends on where you live and your state’s marijuana laws.