In a 2022 survey of 1,448 pet owners, 50% reported using CBD for their cat or dog. Also, with increased access to THC thanks to H.R.3617 and more states legalizing cannabis, vets say there is an increase in accidental THC consumption from dogs (gummies are tasty). Properly dosed, CBD is fine for dogs, and we’ll write about that in a subsequent article. However, large amounts of THC can be toxic to dogs, which is this article’s focus. While humans typically only experience the psychoactive effects of cannabis when it is burned, cooked, or vaporized, dogs can get high from consuming the raw plant, specifically THCa. Keep all THC products in a chew-proof container away from animals and children.
Dogs are Sensitive to Cannabis
THC is the active compound in cannabis responsible for the “high”. There are various forms of THC, such as Delta-8, Delta-9, THCA, THCV, and they are all psychoactive to varying degrees.
Studies indicate that dogs may experience greater sensitivity to the effects of THC than humans, so small amounts of THC can have more pronounced effects on a dog’s behavior and well-being than in a human.
Dogs may also be at higher risk of THC toxicity since they do not possess the metabolic enzymes required to metabolize THC and its byproducts as efficiently as humans. THC poisoning is a serious concern but rarely fatal if treated promptly and appropriately.
Signs of THC poisoning include: fatigue, impaired movement, nausea, excessive salivation, and being overly sensitive to movement or noise.
If you enjoy camping and off-grid activities, be sure to print this out to keep in the car or download a copy of it to your phone.
When access to a phone is available, call your local animal hospital or the toll-free number below.
Do you have a pet CBD or THC emergency? Start here.
ACT QUICKLY but keep calm. Keep your dog calm and secured. Ensure that it doesn’t have access to food, water, or exercise. All three of these are best avoided when your dog has first consumed a toxin.
SEEK HELP. Call your local animal emergency care or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (888) 426-4435. You’ll pay $95 to speak to a live professional that can help guide care. They will likely ask:
- Type of toxin ingested
- Amount ingested
- Likely time of ingestion
- Breed of dog
- Weight of dog
- Age of dog
- Your location (to find help nearby)
They’ll use this information to determine the best next steps. Trust me—it’s well worth $95 to have a professional guide you through this process if local emergency care is unavailable or you’re unsure if its necessary.
When Help is Unavailable
You may need to take matters into your own hands when help can not be reached. The following guidance outlines how to perform certain recommended treatments when your dog has swallowed a toxin. REMEMBER: Attempting these treatments on your own should only be done as a last resort when access to professional help is not possible.
How to Induce Vomiting in Your Dog
Place the dog in a bathtub or other appropriate area for vomiting.
Immediately administer either hydrogen peroxide or liquid charcoal.
Hydrogen peroxide 3% is a commonly available solution for inducing vomiting in dogs, although it may not be effective for every dog and can potentially cause stomach or esophageal irritation if used excessively.
Hydrogen peroxide dosage: 1 teaspoon of the solution for every 5 pounds of the dog’s weight, with a maximum of 3 tablespoons for dogs over 45 pounds. To administer, use a turkey baster or feeding syringe to deliver the solution to the back of the dog’s mouth, avoiding squirting it directly down their throat. Wait 3 to 6 minutes for the dog to vomit. If vomiting does not occur, a second dose may be administered, but no more than two doses should be given.
If your dog does not respond to hydrogen peroxide: it may be helpful to keep emetic eyedrops on hand as an alternative. Ropinirole ophthalmic solution, marketed under the brand name Clevor, is the first FDA-approved emetic for dogs and can be obtained with a prescription from your veterinarian.
Liquid activated charcoal. Activated charcoal, such as Toxiban, binds to toxins in the digestive tract, preventing their absorption into the bloodstream. The porous structure and extensive surface area of charcoal can capture toxins, which are then expelled from the body through feces.
Veterinarians often recommend activated charcoal as a first-line treatment for cannabis toxicity in dogs.
Liquid activated charcoal dosage: 5ml per pound. If dog requires further care, a second dose may be administered.
If your dog experiences nausea or continues to vomit, you can try giving them Pepto Bismol at a dosage of 1/2 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. Additionally, antiemetics such as Pepcid, Bonine, and Benadryl can also be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in dogs.
Avoid giving water to your dog before inducing vomiting. Water can dilute stomach contents and reduce the effectiveness of induced vomiting. Once vomiting has occurred, though, you’ll want to be sure to rehydrate your dog. Start with small amounts to avoid overwhelming the dog’s stomach and causing them to vomit again. If vomiting persists, or if the dog is unable to keep down water, consult a veterinarian.
Don’t your give dog any food. Feeding a dog after ingestion of a toxic substance can delay the absorption of the toxin and worsen the symptoms. It can also increase risk of vomiting, which can increase risk of choking or infection. Wait until your pet is back to normal before feeding.
Don’t let your dog move around. Running around or playing can increase your dog’s heart rate and circulation, which can cause the toxin to spread throughout the body more quickly. This can lead to more severe symptoms.
Watch the dog as they vomit. Clean in and around the mouth with a soft towel, if necessary. If your dog is large and you can’t hold it, put them in a crate or other safe place where movement is unlikely. Never leave a dog alone when inducing vomiting because they can choke.
Check for complications after vomiting. This could be difficulty breathing or signs of pain. If anything seems abnormal, call the vet immediately. Don’t hesitate when it comes to your dog’s well-being.
If your dog is choking, stay calm. Try to keep your dog calm. If you panic, your dog may become more agitated and make the situation worse.
If your dog is still conscious and breathing, try to gently remove the object causing the obstruction. You can use tweezers or pliers if the object is visible and easily accessible. Be careful not to push the object farther down the throat.
If you can’t see the object or it’s lodged too deeply, or if your dog is not breathing or unconscious, perform the Heimlich maneuver. For small dogs, pick them up by their hind legs with their head facing downwards and give five quick blows to their back between their shoulder blades. For larger dogs, stand behind them, place your hands just below their ribcage, and apply firm pressure upwards and inwards. Repeat until the object is dislodged or until you arrive at the veterinarian. Learn more at the AKC website.
A List of Common Toxins, Symptoms and Treatments
Here is a list of common household toxins that are harmful to dogs, along with the symptoms to watch out for and the most commonly recommended treatments.
|Vomiting, lethargy, ataxia, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, coma
|Inducing vomiting, supportive care, IV fluids, anti-anxiety medication
|Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, increased heart rate
|Inducing vomiting, activated charcoal administration, supportive care
|Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, acute kidney injury
|Inducing vomiting, aggressive IV fluid therapy, GI protectants
|Xylitol (sugar substitute)
|Vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, liver failure, hypoglycemia
|Inducing vomiting, IV fluids, glucose supplementation, liver protectants
|Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, black tarry stools, kidney failure
|Inducing vomiting, activated charcoal, IV fluids, GI protectants, renal support
|Rodenticides (rat/mouse poison)
|Weakness, lethargy, vomiting, difficulty breathing, coughing, seizures, internal bleeding
|Inducing vomiting, activated charcoal, vitamin K supplementation, blood transfusions, supportive care
|Household cleaners (bleach, ammonia, etc.)
|Vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coughing, chemical burns, eye/nose irritation
|Washing the affected area, administering oxygen therapy, IV fluids, symptomatic care
|Antifreeze (ethylene glycol)
|Vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, seizures, acute kidney injury
|Inducing vomiting, activated charcoal, IV fluids, dialysis, fomepizole
*CBD, properly dosed, is fine for dogs. However, large amounts of any THC can be toxic to dogs. While humans typically only experience the psychoactive effects of cannabis when it is burned, cooked, or vaporized, dogs can get high from consuming the raw plant, specifically THCa. Keep all THC products in a chew-proof container away from animals and children.