Pot legalization: what it means for our dogs

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The legalization of recreational pot this week in Canada caused quite a buzz (no pun intended). And for pet owners the news may be even more exciting as legalization has paved the way for the first Health Canada-approved clinical trial on the benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) in treating anxiety in pets.

But if statistics are any indication, legalization could spell more trouble for our pets; according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, calls relating to accidental marijuana ingestion by a family pet rose over 400% in the last 6 years. Dogs have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors which makes them more susceptible to the effects and, when combined with their tendency to be rather indiscriminate and enthusiastic scavengers, they are at higher risk of posing.

Even if you don’t partake, more widespread access in general could mean a higher incidence of discarded joints and dropped edibles in public spaces so it’s important that everyone with a pet recognize the signs and know what to do.

What are the signs of marijuana intoxication?


  • low heart rate
  • glassy eyes, dilated pupils
  • difficulty walking, wobbly
  • urinary incontinence
  • vomiting
  • excessive drooling
  • agitation, hyperactivity
  • trembling, seizures

Edibles pose an added  level of risk as they often contain chocolate, raisins and/or xylitol (artificial sweetener); all of which are toxic to dogs.

What should you do if you suspect your dog has ingested marijuana?


  • Get Rover to a vet! And be honest about what he or she may have gotten into. Your vet is not there to judge you, the more they know the better they will be able to treat your pet.
  • Know the contact information for your nearest 24 hour veterinary emergency clinic.
  • Know the number for the ASPCA Animal Control Poison Control Centre (1-800-548-2423). I highly recommend their app (APCC Mobile App) for extensive information on pet poison in general.

The good news is that most dogs will recover from an accidental poisoning but it can be fatal so do get your dog seen by a vet even if they have only ingested a small amount.