Albuquerque Journal Article – Marijuana Toxicity in Pets


Be Kind – Pet Proof your Home        

The growing popularity of marijuana edibles, along with the increasing likelihood of this drug’s full legalization, has created significant animal welfare concerns. Dogs believe that every filched snack may be their last shot at survival, making them natural born thieves. The chocolate in “magic” brownies is a serious risk all by itself.

It’s rare for a dog to die from marijuana toxicity but their wellbeing certainly suffers when they’re overcome with lethargy and unable to walk or climb stairs. Because an overdosed pet can’t verbalize its anxiety and fear the dilated pupils, slowed heart rate, and depressed blood pressure are important physical signs to recognize.

There is a long list of possible causes for these symptoms. In order to make a diagnosis veterinarians need accurate information. If your dog might have ingested marijuana or any possibly toxic substance, legal, embarrassing, incriminating, or otherwise, please cough up the facts. If you tell us that your dog snagged those gummies on the roadside we’ll take your word for it. Fabricate anything you want; just don’t waste your sick dog’s time.

If you’re unsure of the cause, your pet’s urine can be tested for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, plus a few other common mind-bending substances. We don’t collect human urine; there won’t be a police report.

Vomiting can be induced for a dog who comes in soon after eating marijuana, followed by activated charcoal by stomach tube to absorb toxins. Because there is no THC antidote, treatment is largely supportive. Warmth and IV fluids are provided until the drug is metabolized. Most pets recover in 24 hours.

I don’t harbor an opinion of adults indulging in mood altering substances, as long as they don’t put others at risk. Whether its medications, drain cleaner, or weed, being a responsible caretaker of any species includes conscientious child and pet proofing of the home.  We have a moral obligation to those who might blunder into harm’s way.

4/20 can be a really far-out holiday for you. Be responsible. If your dog raids your stash despite your best efforts get him to the doctor ASAP so we can make a difference.


Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.