In recent years, as cannabis becomes more accessible across various regions, an unintended consequence has emerged—a notable increase in cannabis ingestion incidents among pets, particularly dogs. This growing trend has prompted a need for pet owners to be more vigilant and informed about the potential risks and appropriate responses.

German Shepherd sitting in a field

Signs of Cannabis Poisoning in Dogs

Cannabis toxicity in dogs can manifest through several signs, which may vary in severity depending on the amount ingested. Common symptoms include:

  • Lethargy: Affected dogs may appear unusually tired or unresponsive.
  • Loss of Coordination: Difficulty standing or walking straight, often described as appearing “drunk.”
  • Dilated Pupils: Noticeable enlargement of pupils and possible sensitivity to light.
  • Drooling: Excessive salivation or drooling can occur.
  • Vomiting: Some dogs may vomit, which could potentially help expel the ingested substance.
  • Urinary Incontinence: Loss of control over bladder function is a less common, but possible, symptom.
  • Changes in Heart Rate: Either an increased or decreased heart rate can be a symptom of cannabis poisoning.

Recognizing these signs early can significantly impact the outcome for your pet.

Immediate Actions to Take

If you suspect your dog has ingested cannabis, taking swift action is crucial:

  1. Stay Calm: Panicking can distress your pet further. Approach your dog calmly and gently.
  2. Remove Any Remaining Cannabis: If there is any more cannabis or cannabis-infused products within reach, remove them immediately to prevent further ingestion.
  3. Consult a Veterinarian Immediately: Contact your veterinarian or the nearest emergency pet clinic. Be honest about what your pet ingested; accurate information is vital for effective treatment.
  4. Follow Veterinary Advice: Be ready to transport your dog to a veterinary clinic if advised. Keep a close eye on their symptoms and report any changes to the vet.

Treatment Options

Treatment for cannabis poisoning largely focuses on supportive care, aimed at relieving symptoms and preventing complications while the body metabolizes and eliminates the toxin. This may include:

  • Inducing Vomiting: This can be effective if done soon after ingestion, but should only be performed under veterinary supervision.
  • Intravenous Fluids (IV): Administering fluids can help to keep the dog hydrated, maintain blood pressure, and expedite the elimination of cannabis from the body.
  • Activated Charcoal: Sometimes given to absorb toxins present in the gut.
  • Medication: In some cases, medications may be required to control vomiting, protect the stomach, and manage other symptoms.

Recovery time can vary, with most dogs showing improvement within a few hours to several days, depending on the dose ingested and the promptness of treatment.

Preventing Future Incidents

Prevention is key to ensuring your pet’s safety. Ensure that all cannabis products are stored in secure, inaccessible places. Educate all household members and visitors about the risks and the importance of keeping such substances out of pets’ reach.


While cannabis offers various benefits for humans, it poses significant risks to our canine companions. Understanding the signs of cannabis poisoning and knowing how to respond can make a critical difference in your pet’s health and well-being. Always prioritize safe storage of all cannabis and cannabis-infused products, and maintain vigilance to prevent accidental ingestion. By adopting responsible practices, pet owners can enjoy the companionship of their furry friends without unnecessary risks.