Help! My Dog Ate a 5mg Edible

Photo by Sarah Stierch on Flickr

Have you seen this video with the dog that ate not one, but several edibles from the trash can? The video went viral quickly and yes, you can see the poor dog is totally stoned.  A lot of viewers find the video quite funny, which is quite disturbing, to say the least.

While in this case it might be the owner’s fault, there have been reports of dogs eating marijuana-laced products while out on a walk, which is downright worrying.

This article will examine the effects such edible products have on dogs and what you can do if your pet gets marijuana poisoning.

What is an edible?

Cannabis-infused cookies, brownies, gummies, as well as lozenges or lollipops are commonly referred to as edibles, and they are becoming increasingly popular. How dangerous such a treat might be to your dog depends on what the edible actually contains.

The cannabis plant contains some 65 compounds known as cannabinoids, and the most important of these are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). There’s a big difference between the two as THC is psychoactive (it’s the stuff that gets you high), whereas CBD is not psychotropic.

An edible might contain either of them or both, which is why it is important to know what exactly did the dog eat before flying into a panic.

If it’s a CBD cookie, the dog won’t get high. Actually, many pet parents use CBD products to treat their dogs suffering with anxiety, seizures or age-related pains and aches.

There’s no danger for the dog other than the possible side-effects of the rest of the ingredients in that cookie or brownie, mainly sugar or chocolate.

If your dog ate his way through a box full of CBD cookies, be prepared to deal with vomit and diarrhea for the next 24 hours.

 What happens if a dog eats a THC cookie?

The countries where they legalized the consumption of marijuana for recreational uses have seen a tremendous increase in cases of marijuana poisoning in dogs. For, in the US, there has been a dramatic 448% increase in such cases over the past few years.

Many people buy THC-laced edibles since these can be consumed anywhere, even at the office and it’s a much more discreet and socially acceptable way of getting a bit high than smoking a joint!

How powerful is 5 mg of edible?

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, it is important to know how strong that edible was. If it’s your stash your pet discovered you should be able to tell, but if your pet gulps down something some totally irresponsible guy just threw by the side of the street it’s impossible to know.

People just getting started with marijuana edibles, the newbies, are typically advised to start slow and work their way up gradually. A 5 mg edible is as low as it gets. Eating a brownie with 5 mg of THC will induce a pleasant feeling, without getting you stoned. Not if you’re a grown-up human, at least.

What effect does marijuana have on dogs?

In case you didn’t watch the video mentioned in the beginning of this article, perhaps you should try that now and see for yourself. Just as with humans, marijuana in whatever form will get a dog pretty high. When you notice the glassy eyes and the out-of-this-world look on your dog’s face, he’s probably very far gone, but there are lots of other symptoms caused by ingesting edibles. Here are the most common ones:

  • Disorientation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of motor coordination – the dog can barely walk or struggles to stay on his feet
  • Loss of bowels control
  • Drowsiness
  • Abnormal behavior – barking, whining, crying
  • Hypothermia – uncontrollable shivering
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy

How quickly does it take to work?

If your dog just ate some edibles, don’t expect the symptoms to become apparent right away. As opposed to smoking pot or sublingual THC products, such as lozenges, when it comes to edibles the effects take longer to appear.

That’s because the dog has to digest the brownie or cookie first, for the active ingredients to get into his blood system. However, that depends on the dosage and your dog’s weight. Some dogs might show the first symptoms in less than 10 minutes, while others might begin to feel woozy after an hour.

As far as humans are concerned the THC blood levels peak after around three hours, but there aren’t enough studies on the effects of cannabis on animals to be able to tell precisely when your dog will get totally stoned.

In any case, the effects should wear off completely in the next 12 hours, but you should monitor your dog closely for at least 24 hours after getting high on THC edibles.

Does the size of my dog have an impact?

Obviously, a large German Shepherd will experience things differently than little Chihuahua. The smaller the dog, the harder he will be hit. However, there is little reason for concern even if you have a small dog.

The effects of marijuana poisoning will be pretty severe, but permanent damage or death are quite rare in such cases.

There have been several studies on how high a THC dose a dog can tolerate.

For instance, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Veterinary and Human Toxicology looked at 223 cases in which dogs ingested THC edibles in doses ranging from 84.7 mg/kg to 26.8 g/kg. They all survived. Now, 26.8 g/kg is a massive dose and the unfortunate animal probably needed serious medical attention, but if a dog can survive that surely one 5 mg edible won’t harm your pet in any significant way.

Is there anything that I can do to help at home?

There is little a pet owner can do to help a dog who ate one or more edibles. Most probably, your first impulse would be to make the dog throw up, but, in this scenario, it’s a bit tricky.

If you were there to witness the dog savoring the THC brownie, you could try to make him vomit right away. Not by sticking your finger up his throat as some seem to think, but by giving him a hydrogen peroxide which is guaranteed to work.

However, when you come home to discover your THC goodies stash is gone it’s hard to tell how long it’s been since the dog ate the cookies and what sort of effects he is experiencing. When your dog is barely aware of his surroundings, making him throw up is a bad idea. He might choke on his own vomit and if the contents of his stomach get into his lungs he might get aspiration pneumonia, which is pretty nasty.

If the dog doesn’t seem to be in a very bad shape, you can wait for the effects to wear off and make the poor thing as comfortable as possible.

The most important thing is to make sure the dog drinks plenty of water to minimize the effects of the drug. If the dog refuses or is unable to drink, have him lick some water off your fingers or try squirting very small quantities into his mouth with a turkey baster or a plastic syringe without a needle.

Giving him something to eat also helps, but something he won’t choke on. Try plain boiled rice, which might also calm down the nausea.

A stoned dog will probably pee himself, and your carpets, so cover the floor in plastic or put some special dog pads on the floor. Or whatever rags you have that you can throw away afterwards.  

Since your dog is walking like a drunk person and he might also experience muscle twitching, make sure he won’t hurt himself.

One of the effects of marijuana is sharpening all the dog senses, an experience which might be terrifying for him. Keep the lights dim and if possible take him to a room far from the street, to keep him away from loud noises or other dogs barking, as his reactions might be unpredictable.

How will a vet treat my dog with marijuana poisoning?

If you’re unsure how much marijuana has your dog ingested or he seems in distress you should take him to the vet, just to be on the safe side.

It is essential that you tell the vet exactly what happened. Some people often lie in this situation as they are afraid they might be reported to the police if they had illegal substances in their house. In any case, try to give the vet a clear idea of what the dog ingested so he can take the best decision on how to treat your pet.

If you go to the vet right away, in less than an hour after the accidental poisoning, he might try to make the dog throw up. Yes, we did say you shouldn’t try this yourself, but this is a controlled environment and there’s a doctor in charge.

Another remedy the vet might try is giving the dog activated charcoal to clean the dog’s stomach. This is something you, too, can do at home. The recommended dose for dogs is 5 grams (that’s about half a tablespoon) per 10 pounds of weight, but if you go a bit over that it won’t hurt the dog.

In severe cases, the vet might suggest keeping the dog there overnight for observation and he might put the dog on an IV, pumping fluids into his system.  An overnight stay, plus the IV and maybe some tests might cost you up to $1,000, just so you know.

On the other hand, the dog will make a full recovery and you’ll learn to take better care of your private stash. You can’t blame a dog for eating your cookies since they were left on the counter so make sure to keep them out of sight in a closed, unreachable cupboard. 

Closing thoughts

A dog eating an edible might experience a pleasant high, but also some scary side effects. A 5 mg edible is quite unlikely to cause your dog any harm, but you will need to keep him under close observation for the next 12 – 24 hours. Try giving the dog small amounts of water and put him on a bland diet, just in case. If you’re worried that your dog is in a pretty bad shape take him to the vet. There is no miracle cure or antidote for marijuana poisoning, but the vet might put him on an IV to flush the drug out of his system.