I seem to be the Internet’s go-to guy when it comes to questions about pets and marijuana — like “Is smoking weed around dogs dangerous?”
It started when I wrote a few blog posts about what to do if your dog breaks into a stash of marijuana. At around the same time, I also composed a comprehensive website with 100 articles on dog and cat diseases, syndromes and treatments. One of the covered items was marijuana intoxication. The article on marijuana really got noticed.
Newspapers (including SF Weekly) and a bunch of pro-cannabis websites, have quoted me–always without permission, always without making any effort to contact me and sometimes out of context. I talk about canine marijuana intoxication in a straightforward and nonjudgemental way; this has unfortunately led some folks to the misconception that I endorse getting dogs stoned. For the record: I definitely do not.
Questions about marijuana and dogs
Because of this “fame,” I receive a stream of questions about dogs (and other animals) and marijuana. Many of them are ridiculous to the point of absurdity. But not every question I receive is absurd. Consider the following one, which asks if smoking weed around dogs is dangerous:
I read Dr. Barchas’ posting about dogs ingesting marijuana by eating it, but what are the effects of a dog (in this case a 10-month, 50-pound Basset Hound) inhaling the secondhand smoke from someone who smokes marijuana in his bedroom?
Concerned Mom, NJ
So, is smoking weed around dogs dangerous?
The good news is that, unless an animal is confined in a room with extreme amounts of smoke, inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke is not likely to lead to intoxication. If this were a concern, it would be hard to walk the streets of San Francisco without catching a secondhand buzz.
However, the bigger concern here is the smoke itself. Dogs have exquisitely sensitive lungs, and smoke can damage them. Smoking weed around dogs (or cigarettes) around a dog every day, can compromise a dog’s respiratory function. On the other hand, if the person doing the smoking does not go overboard, doesn’t smoke every day and keeps a window open while smoking, it is not likely that much harm will come to the dog — from the smoke at least.
Dogs and marijuana — what to keep in mind
Bear in mind that although I’ve never seen a dog die from marijuana intoxication, smoking weed around dogs can have other consequences. I have seen dogs die as a direct result of their owners getting stoned. Everyone knows that intoxicated people frequently exercise poor judgment. Consider a dog I worked with several years ago. The owner’s boyfriend got stoned and decided to hang out on his apartment building’s roof with the dog. The dog sadly fell four stories and broke his back. The horrified owner elected to euthanize the dog (and, I imagine, dump her boyfriend).
So, remember that situations involving dogs and marijuana can end poorly. Everyone, please be careful. Don’t get your dogs stoned. Be cautious if and when you have been smoking. And please don’t smoke anything (cigarettes or weed) around your dog.
This piece was originally published in 2012.