Over the past 10 years we have seen an increase in Marijuana toxicity in dogs here at NPVEC.
Dogs have a superior sense of smell compared to humans. Dogs will readily sniff out and find marijuana if it is in an area that the dog has access to. Marijuana toxicity is not very common in cats.
Veterinarians are NOT obligated to report marijuana ingestion to the local police. If you suspect your dog may have eaten some, then bring him or her to your veterinarian or emergency clinic. Veterinarians have seen marijuana ingestion in dogs, they are non judgemental, and their concern is for your pet’s well-being. In addition, this will save you considerable cost in diagnostic testing for other possible causes of the signs your dog is exhibiting. It will also save time and allow immediate treatment for your pet.
The signs usually start 30-90 minutes following ingestion. The signs seen are: lack of coordination, listlessness, unresponsiveness, urine dribbling, slow heart rate, head shy or appearing spooked, head or muscle twitching, seizure, coma and death.
If the dog has ingested marijuana within thirty minutes and is not showing signs then it may be possible for the veterinarian to induce vomiting. However, after signs have started inducing vomit is less effective because the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, tends to inhibit nausea and vomiting. It is also not advised to induce vomiting in a sedated dog because of the danger the dog may aspirate or inhale the vomit into the lungs.
Dogs are generally given IV fluids to help eliminate the toxin from the body and maintain blood pressure. Fluids also help prevent dehydration from occurring in the sedated patient.
The dog may also be given activated charcoal to help absorb any toxin in the intestinal tract and prevent it from being absorbed into the body.
The dog’s heart rate and body temperature are also monitored. If the patient has lost consciousness, more intensive care and treatment are required. The chance of death is very small, but possible.
Most dogs recover within 12-24 hours with treatment depending on the amount of marijuana ingested and the concentration of the THC. These facts are usually not known, so each patient is treated individually depending on the severity of the signs the patient is exhibiting and the response to treatment.
Sylvia Graham, DVM
Staff Veterinarian at NPVEC
All original content copyright Sylvia Graham, 2013