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What To Do if Your Dog Eats an Edible

What To Do if Your Dog Eats an Edible

Reviewed by: Dr. David Tittle,BVetMed, CertVA, GPCert(WVA&CPM), MRCVS

Discovering that your dog has ingested an edible containing THC can be concerning. Acting swiftly is crucial, but staying calm is equally important. 

THC, found in cannabis edibles, can lead to adverse effects in dogs. However, it’s important to note that while this situation requires immediate attention, it’s rarely fatal. 

The first and most vital step is to contact your local emergency clinic or veterinarian. While it might be distressing, remember that prompt action significantly increases the chances of a positive outcome. 

Let’s dive into the steps you should take in this unforeseen circumstance.

How Urgent Is Contacting the Emergency Clinic?

When your dog ingests a THC-infused edible, swift action is important. The urgency of contacting your local emergency clinic or veterinarian cannot be overstated. THC toxicity in dogs can result in a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe distress, and timely intervention is crucial in mitigating these effects.

The moment you suspect or confirm your dog’s ingestion of THC, initiate contact with emergency veterinary services without delay. Time is critical in these situations, and prompt action significantly increases the likelihood of a positive outcome. 

Symptoms of THC toxicity can manifest within 30 minutes to a few hours after ingestion, but the severity and speed of onset can vary widely based on factors such as the amount ingested and the dog’s size. Even if your dog appears unaffected initially, THC toxicity symptoms can progress rapidly, leading to more severe issues. 

Therefore, immediately contacting a professional is essential, as they can guide you through the necessary steps to take before arriving at the clinic. Be prepared to provide details about the type and amount of the ingested substance, as this information is vital for effective treatment.

Remember, your dog’s health and well-being are the top priorities. Don’t hesitate to seek help; the sooner your pet receives medical attention, the better their chances of a swift recovery.

What Is THC’s Impact on Dogs?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a psychoactive compound found in cannabis and can have adverse effects on dogs when ingested. Understanding how THC affects dogs is crucial for pet owners in recognizing potential symptoms and addressing them promptly.

Symptoms of THC Toxicity

THC affects dogs differently than humans due to their heightened sensitivity. Common symptoms include:

  • Lethargy and depression
  • Lack of coordination or stumbling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dilated pupils and glassy eyes
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Heightened anxiety or paranoia
  • Urinary incontinence

Severity and Onset of Symptoms

The severity of symptoms depends on factors such as the amount of THC ingested, the dog’s size, and their tolerance levels. Symptoms may surface within 30 minutes to a few hours after ingestion. Small dogs or those with underlying health issues may experience more severe reactions.

Potential Risks and Complications

While THC toxicity is rarely fatal in dogs, severe cases can lead to life-threatening complications such as seizures or coma. Dogs experiencing severe symptoms require immediate veterinary care.

Treatment Approach

Treatment for THC toxicity involves supportive care and symptom management. Veterinary professionals might induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal to reduce absorption. Additionally, intravenous fluids may be provided to aid in flushing out toxins and stabilizing the pet’s condition.

Home Remedies and Delayed Medical Attention

Attempting home remedies or delaying seeking medical attention can exacerbate the situation. It’s crucial to refrain from administering human medications or home remedies without professional guidance, as these can be harmful to dogs and delay appropriate treatment.

Prevention and Caution

Prevention is key in avoiding THC ingestion by pets. Keep cannabis products, including edibles, securely stored out of reach. Educate family members and visitors about the risks and the importance of safeguarding such items from pets.

Recognizing the signs of THC toxicity in dogs and promptly seeking professional veterinary care is essential. While the situation is serious, timely intervention and proper treatment significantly increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for affected pets.

CBD vs. THC: How Do They Differ? 

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are compounds derived from cannabis plants, but they have vastly different effects on dogs. It’s crucial for pet owners to understand these differences, especially in light of potential pet exposure to these compounds.

THC vs. CBD: Differentiating Effects

THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for the “high” feeling in humans. In dogs, THC can lead to various adverse effects, as discussed previously.

CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and does not produce the intoxicating effects associated with THC. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, potentially offering therapeutic benefits without the mind-altering properties.

CBD Benefits for Dogs

Pet-specific CBD products may offer various potential benefits for dogs without the adverse effects of THC. Some studies suggest that CBD could help soothe feelings of stress, calm physical discomfort, and support joint health in pets.

Pet owners should note that while CBD may have potential advantages, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian before administering any new supplements or treatments to their pets.

Legality and Safety Considerations

CBD derived from hemp contains negligible amounts of THC and is legal in many places. However, regulations can vary, so it’s crucial to check local laws regarding CBD use for pets.

Safety is paramount when considering CBD for pets. Pet owners should always opt for high-quality, veterinarian-recommended CBD products like those offered by ElleVet Sciences to ensure safety and effectiveness.

What Are Preventative Measures to Safeguard Your Dog Against THC Exposure?

Secure Storage: Store Cannabis Products Properly

Ensuring cannabis products, especially THC-infused edibles, are stored securely is paramount. Store them in airtight containers, preferably locked cabinets or high shelves, inaccessible to pets. Be mindful when disposing of any cannabis-related waste, ensuring pets cannot access discarded items.

Educate Family Members and Visitors

Educate household members and guests about the risks associated with THC exposure in pets. Emphasize the importance of keeping cannabis products out of reach and highlight the potential dangers these items pose to pets’ health.

Vigilance During Outdoor Activities

When outdoors, remain watchful, especially in areas where cannabis products might be accessible, such as parks or trails. Dogs are naturally curious, and their propensity to investigate could lead to accidental ingestion. Maintain close supervision to prevent unintended exposure.

Immediate Clean-Up

Swiftly clean up any spills or drops of cannabis-infused substances. Use pet-friendly cleaning agents to ensure thorough removal, minimizing the risk of accidental ingestion by curious pets.

Recognize Signs of Exposure

Educate yourself about the symptoms of THC toxicity in dogs. Being able to identify these signs promptly can expedite seeking necessary medical attention in case of accidental ingestion.

Consult Veterinarian Guidance

Consult with a veterinarian regarding any concerns about potential pet exposure to cannabis or if you suspect ingestion. Veterinarians can provide specific advice tailored to your pet’s well-being and offer guidance on preventive measures.

Wrapping Up

In the event of your dog ingesting a THC-infused edible, swift action is crucial. Remember, the urgency lies in contacting your local emergency clinic or veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Although THC ingestion in dogs can induce concerning symptoms, it’s essential to stay calm and take immediate steps toward seeking professional help. Understanding the differences between THC and CBD is pivotal. 

While THC can lead to adverse effects in dogs, CBD offers potential therapeutic benefits without the intoxicating effects. Preventive measures play a vital role in safeguarding your pet against THC exposure. 

Ensure secure storage of cannabis products, educate family and visitors, and remain vigilant during outdoor activities. Recognizing the signs of THC exposure, promptly cleaning up spills, and seeking veterinarian guidance are crucial preventive steps. 

Ultimately, being a responsible pet owner involves proactive measures to protect your dog’s health. 

Sources:

Cannabis (Marijuana) Intoxication in Cats and Dogs | VCA

Marijuana Poisoning in Dogs: Cannabis Intoxication in Pets | American Kennel Club

Pets on Pot—Just High or Highly Dangerous? | College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU

Marijuana Toxicosis in Pets | Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

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