Is Marijuana Dangerous to Dogs? Detroit Couple Finds Out After Pet is 'Poisoned'

PetMD Editorial
Updated: August 24, 2015
Published: August 06, 2015
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The consumption of edible marijuana can sometimes cause an adverse reaction in some users, but those side effects can turn harmful and may even lead to a stay in the emergency room if the user is an unsuspecting dog.

That was indeed the case when a Detroit family noticed their 5-month-old German Shepherd was drooling excessively and running in fear from her owners for seemingly no reason.

According to a report from, the homeowners noticed the odd reactions and behaviors coming from their dog, Zena, after she had been let out in the yard. After monitoring her situation, Zena was taken to an emergency vet where the only anomaly on her blood panel was a positive result for marijuana.

The owners said marijuana was thrown into their yard. No report has been filed and police told the website they are “looking into it.”

While the couple was left with a $2,000 medical bill and a mystery as to who got their dog high, they said they were happy to have Zena back home safe. But this incident does raise the question as more and more states are legalizing marijuana: how dangerous is it for dogs, and what should you do if your dog ingests marijuana?

Is Marijuana Dangerous for Dogs?

Even though dogs can be exposed to the drug in different ways, the symptoms can be hard to diagnose, according to Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinarian and petMD spokesperson.

She said some of the signs of intoxication include incoordination, lethargy, mental dullness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, and sometimes dribbling of urine and vomiting. Adding that while most dogs will recover, Coates said ingestion can sometimes be fatal.

“Most dogs who ingest marijuana will recover with supportive and symptomatic care, but a study published in 2012 showed that of 125 dogs identified as having been exposed to marijuana, two died after choking on their own vomit,” Coates said.

According to the study, both dogs ate marijuana edibles made with medical grade THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) butter.

Coates said symptoms usually develop within a few hours of ingestion, and that while intoxication in dogs is not that serious of a problem, they should still pay a visit to the local vet where testing for potential drugs and toxins, including marijuana, can be performed.

Treatment usually involves inducing vomiting or giving activated charcoal (which absorbes the toxin) to the dog if it is brought in quickly enough. She added that the vast majority of dogs, like Zena, that have ingested marijuana recover uneventfully.

“If you ever suspect that your dog may have ingested marijuana, call your veterinarian or 24-hour veterinary emergency clinic to determine if you should bring your dog in for treatment,” Coates said.

Image: (Not Zena) Roger costa morera / Shutterstock