Can Dogs Get High? Signs of THC Toxicity in Dogs

Written By
5 min read
5 min read

Updated - Apr 20th, 2024

Key Points:

  • Dogs can get stoned if they inhale or ingest cannabis, so keep your stash secured.
  • Symptoms of THC toxicity in dogs may include loss of coordination, drooling, vomiting, and disorientation.
  • If your pup eats weed in any form, call your veterinarian immediately and be honest about what happened.

If you’ve ever indulged in the occasional joint, bowl, or vape pen with your dog around, you may have wondered if your pup was at risk of getting a secondhand high. You wouldn’t be the first pet owner to experience this particular strain of paranoia — especially now that cannabis is legal in several states.

As a rule of thumb, you definitely should not smoke any substance around your pet, regardless of its legal status. Dogs have the same chemical receptors for weed as humans do, so it is possible for them to feel “high” from inhaling or ingesting marijuana. Don’t get any wild ideas: your dog won’t enjoy the experience.

Even the most responsible pet owners can be humbled by an accidental toxic ingestion incident, and getting drugs involved only makes it scarier. However, don’t be afraid to be honest with your vet about what your dog ate and how much. They need as much information as possible to provide the best treatment they can.

Keep reading to learn how you can keep your dog safe the next time you partake, and what to do if your pet has already gotten into your stash.

Can dogs get high from THC?

You may have heard of THC, which is the active chemical in cannabis that makes you feel “high.” Dogs are susceptible to this chemical too, so exposure to pot smoke or ingestion of THC-infused treats can certainly affect them mentally and physically.

In fact, dogs’ brains have more receptors for cannabis than ours do. This means canines are extra sensitive to THC (and we’re not just talking about sniffer dogs at the airport). A human-sized dose of marijuana will affect a dog more severely, making this issue all the more serious.

However, it is unlikely that your dog will inhale enough to be affected by secondhand marijuana smoke, especially if you’re smoking outside. Most incidents of dogs getting high are related to edibles (snacks or candy containing THC) or accidental ingestion of the plant itself.

What do I do if my dog ingests marijuana?

If you suspect that your dog got into your stash or some leftovers on the street, the first thing to do is determine what and how much they ate. Did you notice that your infused chocolate bar is missing, or is your dog just acting a little strange? Maybe they ate a half-smoked joint on their walk, and now you don’t know what steps to take.

Street accidents aside, consider what’s missing from your supply and look for leftover wrappers that may contain an ingredients list. Your vet will want to know if your dog ingested any other dangerous ingredients, such as tobacco, chocolate, or xylitol (a preservative that’s extremely toxic to dogs).

Call your vet as soon as you finish your at-home detective work, and make sure to give them the full story of what happened. Your vet is not obligated to tell the authorities about your private activities, even if weed is illegal in your state. Besides, you can trust that you both have your pet’s best interests at heart.

What are the signs of THC toxicity in dogs?

It can take between 30 minutes and three hours for dogs to show signs of intoxication, depending on their weight and how much they ate. Most cases appear mild and will resolve within 24 to 48 hours.

While it might not seem that unusual for your dog to nap all day or stumble a bit, symptoms of THC toxicity can be life-threatening in severe cases — especially when edibles are involved. Dogs already have an increased sensitivity to THC, and the high concentrations in edibles can reach a level that is toxic for your pet. 

Some of the most common symptoms related to THC toxicity in dogs include:

  • Urinary incontinence or “dribbling”
  • Drooling
  • Disorientation
  • Drunken gait or stumbling
  • Lethargy
  • Increased reactivity
  • Low heart rate
  • Low blood pressure

More severe cases of THC toxicity in dogs can lead to seizures, tremors, trouble breathing, and even coma. A recent survey of veterinarians found that fatal cases of suspected marijuana ingestion are increasing, but remain relatively rare. This could be related to the increased availability of cannabis products with very high concentrations of THC.

What is the treatment for THC toxicity in dogs?

There’s no specific procedure for getting your dog “un-stoned”, so the recommended course of treatment will vary based on how much your dog ate and how recently they ate it. While THC can be detected with a blood or urine test, vets tend to diagnose toxicity based on the telltale symptoms.

If you’re able to get your pet to the vet within 30 minutes of their accidental ingestion, your veterinarian may try to make your dog vomit to reduce the amount of THC absorbed into their bloodstream. Activated charcoal can also help with this, but it should only be administered by a veterinary professional.

If your dog is showing mild symptoms of THC toxicity, your vet may recommend you ride out the high at home. Make sure your dog gets plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration — in severe cases, intravenous fluids may be required.

How can I protect against THC toxicity in dogs?

Make sure to secure your stash in a locked drawer or high cabinet if you’re going to keep cannabis at home. If it comes with a warning label or a child lock, chances are you don’t want your dog getting into it.

Still, accidents can happen when your head is in the clouds, and treating THC toxicity in dogs is not cheap. The last thing you want to worry about in the hospital waiting room is the cost of care. Consider pet insurance as a way to prepare for these accidents before they happen, and get a free quote from Pumpkin today.

Andrea Michelson

Andrea Michelson

Editorial Content Writer at Pumpkin
Andrea is an experienced health writer based in New York City. She's also mom to Gina, a tiny cat with a big attitude.
Back to Top Back to Top