Our Dog Ate Marijuana: What You Need to Know

IMG_0916This isn’t the post I expected to write this week, but then this is a situation I never expected to experience. With marijuana laws loosening, pet ingestion of pot is expected to become more common. A study in Colorado before full legalization showed the number of dogs ingesting marijuana to be on the rise, but there was some speculation if exposures were going up or if people were becoming more honest with their vets. Regardless, our puppy Trixie ate either straight marijuana or a laced edible while in San Francisco (of course, right?) on Monday and here’s our experience for those in a similar situation. (P.S. I’m not a vet. Again, this was just our experience.)

We spent the morning of Martin Luther King Day at Dolores Park, eating croissants from Tartine, sitting outside of the playground where our kids played because dogs aren’t allowed inside the playground. The park is a hot mess due to the construction, making the playground area feel more cramped and gross, because all of the various users of the park from the homeless to dog park people to families, are all clustered in to a much tighter area. Trixie loved this outing. People wanted to pet her or take her picture, there were tons of smells, and sadly, some different things to eat up on the ground. We never saw her eat anything, but it happened, probably when she found something of interest under a bench.

Trixie slowed down as we walked to get ice cream, and she slowed even more on our walk to the car. We’ve done a lot of walking, we justified, of course she’s tired. She zonked out on the ride home, and was even more lethargic once we made it to our house. My husband was worried, but other than being over-tired, there wasn’t anything else to merit a call to the vet.

Things got worse fast. Trixie started shaking, she had trouble lifting her head, and she couldn’t stand up because her back legs wouldn’t uncross. When we helped her, she couldn’t walk much and when she did, she’d move sideways. She looked much like our previous dog before she died of old age. Worried that she had been poisoned (sadly, Dolores Park history includes someone poisoning dogs) my husband called the vet and they said to rush her in. Trixie’s symptoms and her time at a park in San Francisco prompted the doctor to run a screen on her which came back positive for THC.

The vet administered activated charcoal tablets and an IV for fluid to help absorb and flush it from her system. While it didn’t appear she ingested a lethal dose, we were nervous because we didn’t see what or how much she ate and she weighs only 11 pounds. Poor Trixie was hit hard. She stayed at the vet’s office for a few hours, and returned home that night showing signs of her normal self, just super fluid-filled. She was saggy like a dog that had given birth and she sloshed as she ran, yet we were thrilled to see her running again.

The signs of marijuana ingestion in dogs:

  • low heart rate
  • trouble walking
  • tremors
  • some can be anxious (if this was a person, we’d call it paranoid. The next day, she barked at nothing in the front yard, prompting me to roll my eyes.)
  • peeing everywhere (when Trixie made it to the vet, she peed all over the place and the vet said that was an indication of marijuana exposure. Trixie is a puppy who is not fully potty trained, which means indiscriminate peeing would not have registered with us as unusual.)
  • some dogs can have seizures and become comatose.

The mere fact that this happened is funny, but what Trixie went through was not. We’re so glad we took her to the vet for treatment. She may have been okay without it, but it helped get her back to normal much faster and it made us feel better knowing what was happening. We didn’t know what she’d been exposed to, and then when we did, we didn’t know how much, leaving us a lot to worry about.

Monday night, Trixie had dry mouth and would drink her bowl empty, then bark for more. After that, she went into a deep sleep, and woke up 100% the next day. When the vet’s office called to follow up on her two days later, we could all laugh about our stoner dog who could still be president because she didn’t inhale. Although that joke didn’t rival the long stream of funny comments from friends on Facebook. She’s fine now, we can exhale.


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