Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
September 26, 2023

As the popularity of marijuana and cannabis products continues to grow, so does the concern over THC toxicity in dogs. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana, responsible for the euphoric “high” experienced by humans. However, when it comes to dogs, THC can pose serious health risks, leading to marijuana toxicity. In this article, we will explore the potential dangers of THC for dogs, how they may be exposed to it, the signs of THC toxicity, and the importance of responsible pet ownership in ensuring their safety and well-being.

This post is intended as information and for general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is recommended that you talk to a healthcare professional about this before introducing cannabinoids into your daily routine (especially if you have been diagnosed with any medical conditions or are under any medication). It is not recommended to drive or operate any machinery when using cannabis- or hemp-derived products. Use responsibly!

Explanation of THC and Its Source

THC is a cannabinoid compound found in the cannabis plant. When humans consume marijuana, THC binds to their brain’s cannabinoid receptors, leading to altered perceptions and feelings. Dogs can be exposed to THC through various sources, including marijuana plants, marijuana edibles like brownies and cookies, THC-infused oils, and even CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC. It is important to note that while CBD (cannabidiol) is another cannabinoid found in cannabis, it does not produce the same psychoactive effects as THC and is generally considered safer for pets.

Importance of Understanding THC Toxicity in Dogs

With the increasing legalization and availability of cannabis products, the risk of accidental THC exposure to dogs is on the rise. Dogs have a unique physiology that makes them more susceptible to THC toxicity compared to humans. Understanding the potential risks of THC in dogs is essential for every pet owner to ensure the well-being of their beloved pets. Marijuana poisoning in dogs can lead to serious health implications, and being aware of the signs and symptoms of THC toxicity is crucial for timely intervention and appropriate treatment.

Overview of the Content and Its Relevance for Dog Owners and Caregivers

This article aims to provide comprehensive information about THC toxicity in dogs, its potential dangers, and the necessary steps for pet owners to recognize, respond, and prevent THC exposure. By understanding the risks associated with THC and being proactive in preventing its ingestion, dog owners can play a vital role in safeguarding their pets’ health and happiness.

What is THC and How Do Dogs Get Exposed to It

Definition of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)

THC is a psychoactive compound found in cannabis that produces the characteristic “high” experienced by marijuana users. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system in mammals, including dogs, which regulates various physiological processes.

Sources of THC exposure for dogs

Dogs may be exposed to THC by ingesting marijuana plants or products. Accidental consumption of human edibles containing THC is also a common scenario. CBD products with higher-than-advertised THC levels can pose a risk if given to pets. Common Symptoms of THC Exposure in Dogs:

Early signs of THC ingestion

Changes in behavior, such as lethargy, anxiety, restlessness, or altered responsiveness. Physical symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling. Neurological effects, such as tremors, loss of coordination, or seizures in severe cases.

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System in Dogs

The role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in maintaining balance and homeostasis in the body. The presence of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors) in dogs’ brain, nervous system, immune system, and other organs.

Interaction of THC with the endocannabinoid receptors in dogs

THC primarily binds to CB1 receptors in the dog’s brain, leading to altered neurological function and psychoactive effects. The high density of CB1 receptors in the brain contributes to dogs’ increased sensitivity to THC. Factors Influencing THC Toxicity in Dogs:

Size and weight of the dog

Smaller dogs are generally more sensitive to THC due to their lower body mass and metabolism. Dosage calculations should be based on the dog’s weight to avoid overexposure.

Individual variations in metabolism and tolerance to THC

Some dogs may be more susceptible to THC toxicity due to differences in how their bodies process and eliminate the compound. Genetic factors may also play a role in how dogs react to THC.

Interactions with other medications or substances

THC may interact with other medications, potentially altering their effects or causing unexpected reactions.

What to Do If Your Dog Ingests THC

Immediate steps to take if THC ingestion is suspected

Contact a veterinarian or an animal poison control helpline promptly for guidance. Avoid trying to induce vomiting without professional advice, as it may worsen the situation.

When to seek emergency veterinary care

Seek immediate veterinary care in severe cases or when the dog is showing severe symptoms of THC toxicity. Providing Supportive Care at Home:

Keep the dog in a calm environment to reduce stress and anxiety. Provide access to fresh water but avoid feeding any additional food until advised by the veterinarian.

Diagnosis and Treatment of THC Toxicity in Dogs

Veterinary evaluation and diagnostic procedures

Physical examination and history-taking to assess the dog’s condition and potential THC exposure. Blood tests may be conducted to measure THC levels and assess organ function.

Treatment options for THC toxicity in dogs

There is no specific antidote for THC toxicity; treatment is primarily supportive care to manage symptoms. Activated charcoal may be administered to reduce THC absorption in certain cases. Intravenous fluids may be given to support hydration and eliminate toxins.

Prevention and Safety Measures

Securing THC-containing products and substances

Keep marijuana and THC products out of reach from dogs, especially in homes with curious or mischievous pets. Be cautious about leaving discarded marijuana joints or residues accessible to pets.

Educating family members and visitors about the risks of THC for dogs

Create awareness among all household members, including children and guests, about the potential dangers of THC to pets.

Alternatives to THC-containing products for managing pet health issues

Consult with a veterinarian to explore safe and effective alternatives like cbd products with no or minimal THC content.

CBD vs THC Understanding the Difference and Safety

Differentiating CBD from THC

Explain that CBD is non-psychoactive and has different effects on the endocannabinoid system compared to THC.

Is CBD safe for dogs? Potential benefits and risks

Discuss current research on the use of CBD in dogs and its potential benefits for certain health conditions. Emphasize the importance of using high-quality CBD products formulated specifically for pets.


In conclusion, THC can be toxic to dogs, leading to marijuana toxicity and severe health implications. As responsible pet owners, it is crucial to understand the risks associated with THC exposure and take appropriate precautions to prevent accidental ingestion. By being aware of the signs and symptoms of THC toxicity, seeking immediate veterinary care when needed, and exploring safe alternatives like veterinarian-approved CBD products, we can ensure the safety and well-being of our furry companions. Responsible pet ownership and education about THC toxicity can go a long way in providing a happy and healthy life for our beloved dogs.


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