Marijuana Ingestion

Pets consuming marijuana is on the rise; particularly dogs. This can be attributed to the fact that medical marijuana is being obtained more readily, and that it comes in multiple different forms including edibles.  Carelessly leaving these products in easily accessible locations leads to curious pets ingesting this potentially toxic substance.

Depending on the amount ingested, marijuana is considered to have a moderate to severe level of toxicity. Symptoms of ingestion are:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Acting “drunk.”
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low heart rate
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sensitivity to light or touch
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vomiting

Clinical signs usually appear anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes after ingestion or exposure and signs may last up to 72 hours. Various systems are affected; nervous, gastrointestinal, cardiac, and urinary.

Intoxication with marijuana appears clinically similar to other, more serious forms of poisoning. Because marijuana is a controlled substance, people are often reluctant to tell their veterinarian that their pet has consumed it.  It is always best to be honest with your veterinarian – veterinarians are not obligated to report this type of poisoning. Being honest with your vet will help them to properly treat your pet, as well as save you the expense of unnecessary testing.

There is no remedy to reverse the effects of marijuana – the best treatment is supportive care.  Activated charcoal can be given to absorb some of the toxins. IV fluids, anti-vomiting medication, temperature regulation, and controlling seizures or tremors are all involved in supportive care.

Written by CCR Kylie