Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on August 31, 2021

The legalization of cannabis across the states in one form or another has not only enabled weed enthusiasts to enjoy more cannabis products, but has also brought many new users to the community. Marijuana is now used not only as a recreational tool, but also as a treatment for some medical conditions like chronic pain and epilepsy. We already know a lot about the effects of marijuana on humans, but what about pets?

Dogs are one of the most common household pets, so it wouldn’t be unusual to wonder about the effects of weed on dogs. We’ve previously talked about CBD oil and dogs, but today we want to talk about whether dogs can get high off weed, so if you’re a dog owner, this article could be useful.

How Does Cannabis Affect Dogs?

Just like humans and all vertebrates, dogs also have cannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems. This means that they’re also sensitive to the effects of marijuana, particularly the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive cannabinoid. 

However, according to the veterinary community, marijuana isn’t safe for dogs (even in small quantities) because dogs have a larger number of cannabinoid receptors in their brains than humans. In fact, it’s thought that the toxicity of marijuana in dogs is moderate to severe. In rare cases, marijuana ingestion in large quantities can be life-threatening for dogs.

The size of your dog also plays a role in how marijuana will affect it. As you would assume, smaller dogs are much more vulnerable to the effects of marijuana than larger dogs – and will have more pronounced reactions.

Can Dogs Get High Off Weed?

Simply said, yes, dogs can get high off weed. 

Dogs can get high if they ingest marijuana leaves and/or buds, if they eat edibles (brownies, cookies, gummies, etc.), or through secondhand smoke (also called a contact high).

Contrary to humans, though, for dogs, it’s not an enjoyable experience because they don’t know what is happening and what this altered state of mind is. Humans have evolved to have the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls rational thinking. So, even under the influence, humans are still aware of their experiences.

Dogs don’t have a prefrontal cortex and act on primal instincts, emotions, and impulses. When dogs get high, they don’t have the capability to rationally understand what’s happening to them and why. They will exhibit visible symptoms with varying intensity depending on how much marijuana they have ingested.

Signs Your Dog Has Ingested Weed

If your pet has accidentally ingested some of your stash or edibles, its behavior will inadvertently change. These are the signs you should look for:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty walking (ataxia)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Changes in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Body temperature is too high or too low
  • Mood changes – agitation or whining/crying 

Can I Give My Dog Medical Marijuana?

Some pet owners choose to give their dogs medical marijuana. Many pot shops sell pet treats infused with marijuana, but this doesn’t make it safe. There is a lack of research on medical cannabis and dogs, so it’s better to skip it. However, you might want to look into using CBD products as a form of medical marijuana, like CBD oil.

What About CBD Oil?

CBD oil is made from CBD (cannabidiol) extracted from the hemp plant and mixed into a carrier oil. CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects. This cannabinoid is considered to be very well tolerated by most people and it rarely causes any side effects. 

As per the law, full-spectrum CBD oil can’t contain more than 0.3% THC, but if you want to avoid THC altogether, you can use CBD isolate oil with no THC.

Currently, the use of CBD oil for humans has been approved in some states as part of the medical marijuana programs even though it’s still not FDA-regulated. As for dogs, under current federal and state law, vets can’t prescribe CBD oil for pets.

Still, as per a 2018 research paper, there is no evidence that CBD oil is not safe for dogs. On the contrary, the same paper found that there was a significant decrease in pain and increase in mobility in dogs that were given CBD oil. Another 2018 clinical study has confirmed that CBD oil can help to treat dogs with osteoarthritis. 

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of CBD oil helping dogs with various issues. Many owners choose to give CBD oil to their pets for different reasons, the most common being pet anxiety, chronic pain, and inflammation. Or in other words, the benefits of CBD oil for dogs are similar to those for humans. You can check out our CBD oil dosage guide for dogs here.

What Should I Do If My Dog Accidentally Ingests Weed?

Marijuana ingestion in dogs requires an emergency vet treatment, even if the ingested quantity is small. If you notice your dog showing signs of marijuana ingestion, take it to the vet. In most cases, dogs will require an evaluation and supportive care to treat the symptoms and help your pup to feel better as soon as possible.

Depending on your dog’s condition, it may need IV fluids and medication to bring its heart rate and temperature back to normal. The vet may also administer activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the toxin and neutralize it.

Bottom Line – It’s Best to Keep Your Pet Safe From Accidentally Ingesting Weed

Unlike humans, the cannabis plant doesn’t fare so well with dogs because dogs are far more sensitive to the psychoactive effects of THC. Out of the many cannabis products available on the market, CBD-based products, such as CBD oil, are much more suitable for dogs. In fact, many dog owners choose to treat their dogs’ symptoms with CBD oil. 

If your dog accidentally eats a marijuana edible or shows signs of intoxication (even from secondary marijuana smoke), or if it ingests a very large dose of CBD oil or other CBD products, it’s best to take it to the vet as soon as possible (to get supportive care and prevent further absorption of THC and other cannabinoids).

Disclaimer

The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.