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Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Cannabis poisoning in dogs is becoming more and more frequent and a source of

regular calls to veterinary clinics and animal poison control centers. Dogs are, in fact,

very sensitive to cannabinoids. At low doses, your animal can be the victim of serious

symptoms with behavioral and physical changes sometimes leading to death. Whatever

the form of Cannabis, it represents a serious risk of poisoning for your dog or puppy

who can inhale or ingest it. As a consumer of this recreational drug, you must

be extremely vigilant with your pet.

Your dog has eaten cannabis or one of its derivatives, and you don't know what to do.

Have you blown smoke at your pet or given it an edible, and it is showing worrying symptoms?

In this article, our veterinarian explains the sources of poisoning, the toxic doses, the

clinical signs, and the treatment of Cannabis poisoning in dogs.

Sources of Cannabis Poisoning in Dogs

Cannabis (or Indian hemp) is a recreational and medicinal plant that can be used in

human medicine. It comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, where marijuana also comes


Dogs can be intoxicated by cannabis in different ways. Some of the most common

sources include:

  • Cannabis resin or hashish

  • Dried flowers and leaves (marijuana).

  • Cannabis oil.

  • Fresh leaves and flowers during "home" cultivation.

  • Edibles such as gummies & chocolates

Generally, this intoxication is accidental, but alas, in certain cases, it is the fact of the

owner or one of his relatives, unconscious or ignorant, who blows the smoke of a joint

directly into the muzzle of the dog (blower) or him feeds a cannabis-infused treat!

Cannabis intoxication by passive inhalation of joint smoke consumed by the owner in

the same room is rarer. This is, however, not excluded depending on the amount

smoked, the size of the room, its ventilation, and the sensitivity of the dog.

Why Cannabis Intoxicates Dogs

The reason cannabis is toxic to dogs is because of the cannabinoids present in the

plant. These active ingredients, the most toxic of which is THC (delta-8-

tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), are responsible for the

psychotropic effects of this drug.

You should also know that dogs have a different anatomy from humans. Indeed, dogs

have many more cannabinoid receptors in their brains than humans. Consequently,

your four-legged animals are more sensitive and more exposed to the toxic effects of


Like all drugs, once absorbed by the body, THC binds to specific neuro-receptors in the

brain (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) and disrupts the functioning of the

central nervous system.

Depending on the doses and the mode of intoxication (inhalation or ingestion), this

molecule will act more or less quickly and more or less strongly on these receptors with

the following effects on your dog's body:

  • Modification of the dog's locomotion (disorders in its movements)

  • Disturbance of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and central nervous system and its thermoregulation (imbalance in body temperature).

Is it Ideal to Use THC for dogs?

A low dose of cannabis can cause symptoms (a dumpling of a few grams of weed, for


The dose of THC absorbed directly depends on the type of product consumed. The

concentration can indeed vary from 1 to 30% depending on whether we are talking

about a edibles, marijuana, or concentrated resin.

The toxicity of cannabis varies depending on the dog's age, health, and size. It is

therefore difficult to determine a threshold dose of THC serving as a benchmark for the

first symptoms.

Studies have just shown that the lethal (fatal) dose for a dog can be 3 grams of THC per

kg of weight for the animal concerned.

Mortality is therefore rare because it would take 500 grams of ingested fresh flowers at

6% THC or 200 grams of cannabis resin at 15% THC to kill a 10Kg dog. Be careful

though because, in recent years, the resin has been more and more concentrated,

amounting to up to 30% THC! The toxic dose of resin is therefore less important at

these high levels.

Cannabis Poisoning Symptoms in Dogs

In dogs, the first signs of intoxication appear on average 30 to 90 minutes after the

absorption of cannabis. However, sometimes it is 5 minutes by inhalation and up to 12 hours after ingestion.

The main post-ingestion or inhalation symptoms in dogs are:

1. Neurological symptoms

These are the most common signs. They are related to the mode of action of

cannabinoids on the central nervous system.

  • Drowsiness, sometimes followed by prostration (the dog remains amorphous in its corner)

  • Behavioral change: the dog becomes aggressive when he is usually calm or, conversely, abnormal calm in a hyperactive dog.

  • Tremors. The dog is shaking uncontrollably and may not stand on its feet.

  • Difficulty moving, ataxia (impairment of coordination in gait)

  • Anxiety, which may be accompanied by moaning.

  • Vocalizations with repeated barking as if the dog were hallucinating.

  • Alternation of depression phases and excitation phases.

  • Possible coma and death in the most serious, but fortunately rare cases.

2. Digestive symptoms

  • Hypersalivation.

  • Vomiting.

  • Fecal and sometimes urinary incontinence.

  • Overeating or not eating at all .

3. Cardiorespiratory symptoms

Disturbances of the heart rate (tachycardia, bradycardia) and respiratory rate (polypnea,

tachypnea, or dyspnea) may be observed.

4. Thermoregulation disorders

With Cannabis poisoning, there may be an increase or decrease in the body

temperature of the dog associated with generalized weakness.

In addition to these clinical manifestations, you will quite often notice a dilation of your

dog's pupils (called mydriasis).

Symptoms of cannabinoid poisoning in dogs can last up to 72 hours! Indeed, the

elimination of THC (the toxic compound of cannabis) is very slow. The latter is very fat-

soluble and therefore easy to store in fatty tissue. Its release is therefore gradual and


Folks who give there dog THC often think there dogs reactions are the dog being "high" much like it is for humans when taking THC. It is important to know that these symptoms are not from your dog being "high & chillin" rather they are suffering from THC poisoning instead.

What Should I Do If My Dog ​​Has Swallowed Cannabis?

Cannabis ingestion or inhalation by a dog is considered a veterinary emergency that

varies in severity depending on your pet's age, health, size, and doses.

Therefore, if you are in this situation, it is strongly recommended to consult a

veterinarian quickly.

It is imperative to react quickly! The longer you wait, the more THC your dog's body

absorbs, and his or her life may depend on it.

What Not To Do!

It is strictly not recommended to make your dog vomit on your own without consulting a

specialist. You could make the situation worse (forcing it out through the wrong route

with pulmonary complications, for example).

Treatment of Cannabinoid-Poisoned Dogs

When a drug or a toxic product is absorbed, the emergency strategy consists of

stopping the further absorption of this toxic substance and limiting its effects. Then, you

have to treat the animal by helping it eliminate the poison from the body and support its

vital functions.

The veterinarian you will have taken care to call without delay may be faced with 2


  • Assumed ingestion is recent (roughly less than 30-45 minutes)

  • The intoxication is older (a few hours)

In the 1st case, the veterinarian tries to make the dog or puppy vomit to eliminate the

product and decontaminate the digestive tract. If there are no associated symptoms, the

animal can be sent home with a digestive absorbent such as orally activated charcoal,

which can be given every 6 to 8 hours. Monitoring is required to intervene if other symptoms appear at home.

In the second case, the psychotropic agent is already spreading within the body and

causing general effects. There is not much left to vomit out of the stomach.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, hospitalization on a drip may be necessary.

The infusion then serves to force elimination and support the functions of vital organs.

This also helps prevent possible injuries that the disoriented and poorly coordinated dog

can inflict on itself by confining it to a small area under supervision.

The veterinarian adapts the therapeutic choice according to each case. He can thus use

drugs to regulate heart rate, respiratory function, and body temperature.

The use of anti-stress drugs or anxiolytic drugs is not excluded to calm agitated dogs.

The Virtues of CBD Oil for Dogs

Cannabidiol, one of the active substances of the hemp plant (one cannabinoid amongst

a hundred others),is regularly put forward for its virtues. This molecule would indeed

act on many emotional states and chronic pathologies. CBD helps to reduce anxiety

and stress, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and even fight against epilepsy or


These effects, it seems, are found in the same way in animals, in particular in dogs. For

a simple reason: cannabinoids act on a vast network of receptors in the body called the

endocannabinoid system, which influences the regulation of blood, heart rate,

breathing, and appetite. However, this network exists in all mammals and functions a

priori in the same way.

This would justify the use of CBD for the dog. In this case, the best way to administer it remains cannabidiol in the form of oil: to simplify the intake, but also for the sake of efficiency, the oil is characterized by a faster action when consumed orally. But beware:

CBD oil given to dogs must be free of THC, the molecule that "gets you high" and can have adverse effects on animals. Care must therefore be taken to use CBD oils that

comply with the legislation and display less than 0.3% THC. SunKissed Greenz pet care products are always made with THC Free CBD.

What Do Clinical Studies Tell Us About CBD And Dogs?

Some surveys support the use of CBD for dogs such as this 2016 survey by the

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, but a survey is not a clinical study: it

only observes behaviors and uses, without proving in any way the beneficial effect of

the use of CBD for the dog. To go further, we must therefore look at scientific studies –

few, it is true.

  • CBD for an epileptic dog. Our four-legged friends also suffer from this neurological disorder, for which cannabidiol has already proven its benefits inhuman patients. What about dogs? According to a 2018 study of 16 doggies by a neurologist at Colorado State University, the administration of CBD containing less than 0.3% THC resulted in 89% of dogs reducing the frequency of their seizures epileptics. This study also showed that administration in the form of oil is more effective.

  • CBD for a dog with osteoarthritis or arthritis. Pain due to joint disease is particularly debilitating: the development of arthritis or osteoarthritis is noted in the animal when it loses mobility. A 2018 study by researchers at Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, USA evaluated the effectiveness of CBD oil on 22 dogs with osteoarthritis. She found a significant decrease in pain and a concomitant increase in activity and mobility.

  • CBD for an anxious dog. There are no studies specific to dogs. However, several studies tend to show the effectiveness of CBD in the treatment of anxiety in general (especially in humans). And since the endocannabinoid system works the same way in animals, one can imagine that using CBD for an anxious dog could give positive effects.

It should be kept in mind that no health authority has approved the use of CBD for dogs

or any other pet. The difficulty lies in the impossibility of validating 100% of the results

which, necessarily, cannot be confirmed by the main parties concerned. Take pain, for

example: does cannabidiol really help the dog, or does it make the dog indifferent to it?

That's the question posed by a veterinarian in a Huffington Post article. The possible

positive effects of CBD in the dog can only be judged by the yardstick of his reactions: if

he is calm in a situation where he would usually be stressed, if his mobility is improved

when he suffers from osteoarthritis or arthritis, etc.

Should You Specifically Use CBD For Dogs (And, If So, How)?

There are products suitable for animals, CBD oil for dogs for example. Cannabidiol can also be found in the form of dog biscuits. As for the dosage, it depends on the animal.

The ideal way is to start with a low dose (0.2 mg per kilo), then increase gradually by

adapting to the reactions of the dog. The quality of the product also plays a role, which

is why it is important to move towards CBD oils from 100% organic and THC-free hemp

plants. Finally, remember that the use of CBD for dogs can in no way replace drug

treatment. The best thing is to talk to your veterinarian about it: he will certainly have

heard of it!

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