San Diego: Here's What to Do If Your Dog Eats Weed

Since California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, cases of canine intoxication have increased.

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Since California legalized recreational marijuana in late 2016, vets say they’ve noticed an increase in dogs accidentally eating cannabis.

Pet owners say they are running into more discarded marijuana on streets and sidewalks while walking their dogs.

Robert Young from San Marcos likes his pups Cody and JJ to run off-leash at the Mayflower Dog Park in Escondido.

Young knows about dogs eating marijuana.

“I have heard that any sort of weed ingestion by dogs is going to cause bad problems,” he said. “I’ve heard of dogs going to the hospital from eating weed. I had a friend who told me that one of their friends took their dog to the hospital and they didn’t know what was going on.”

Brieana Sarvis, Medical Director with the San Diego Humane Society Escondido campus, said her emergency room colleagues have seen the increase first-hand.

"Yes, ever since it’s been legalized, they are definitely seeing more cases. It’s just more prevalent and more likely for animals to become exposed,” she said.

In the past six years, there’s been a more than 400% increase in calls about marijuana poisoning — with most reported in New York and California, according to the Pet Poison helpline. Last year, the A.S.P.C.A.’s Animal Poison Control number received nearly 7,000 calls for marijuana ingestion, an 11% increase from the year prior.

Though most dogs recover, the symptoms can be scary.

“I would be careful, especially if you are taking your pet for a walk in an area where you may be concerned a joint being discarded or an edible being discarded there,” Sarvis said. “Keeping your pet on the leash is the most important thing.”

But dog owners like Young say it’s not only dogs and their owners who need to be more aware, it’s also the smokers.

“I wouldn’t want my dogs eating one of those and getting sick. That would be really frustrating,” he said, “People need to just be mindful and cautious with weed, being legalized. Where they leave their litter and their trash. Because it’s legal to smoke marijuana but it’s not legal to litter.”

If your dog eats marijuana and gets really sick, timing is key, Sarvis said. Vets say you should call them or a poison control helpline right away.

There is no clear test to confirm whether a dog is intoxicated.

Sarvis said treatment for most cases typically includes IV fluids and monitoring of vital signs.

If you suspect your dog is intoxicated, you can call:

  • Pet Poison Hotline (855) 764-7661 ($85 incident fee applies)
  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435 (consultation fee may apply)

If you are interested in adopting an animal, visit the San Diego Humane Society's website for more information.

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