Parenting a pet, no matter what kind, can be a frustrating and bewildering experience. Animals can’t tell you what they want and need (directly, at least), so we’re here to help you answer any questions you have about your favorite companion — whether they be furry, slimy, feathered, scaly or anything in between — with insight from the experts. This is “Basic Bitch,” an advice column for pet parents who just want the best for their best friend.
The Very Basic Concern
Yeah, I smoke that good green stuff, and because my dog clearly loves me, he usually sits directly on my lap, right there in the smoke zone. You could even say he seems particularly interested in grabbing my attention while I’m grinding weed and packing bowls (maybe he likes the smell, I dunno).
I always try my best to blow smoke far, far away from his face — ideally, out a nearby window — but I still worry that he might be affected in some way. It really doesn’t seem to bother him, but I’d hate to learn that I’m accidentally getting my dog stoned — and possibly making him freak out — against his doggie will.
Basically: Is smoking around your dog bad?
The Expert Advice
Beverly Ulbrich, dog behaviorist and founder of The Pooch Coach: The thing I would be careful of, just like you would when dealing with a child or anything else, is ventilation — you don’t want to hotbox your dog. But if there’s good ventilation and nothing’s blowing right in their face, they should be fine. That said, I’ve seen people blow smoke right into their dog’s faces, and sometimes I see dogs act a little loopy afterward, but I’ve also seen dogs have no effect from it. That was back in the day when we were smoking straight weed, like buds and flowers, not vaping.
The other thing I would worry about — and it kinda sounds funny — but just like with humans, think about how dogs beg: They’re always hungry and always want food. Imagine a stoned dog, then. I wouldn’t want to make my dog more hungry, so that’s another problem, because they can get into trouble. If you’re stoned, and your dog’s off trying to find food, that can go poorly. You just have to be aware that you still have to be a responsible parent, so to speak, and be conscious of what your dog’s behavior is like.
One more thing I should say: At least twice there have been episodes of dogs ingesting marijuana in San Francisco. One time, a whole bunch of dogs at one park went to a nearby vet, and the vet figured out that all three or four dogs had just eaten some cannabis they found. The problem becomes not the cannabis itself, although the dogs were acting weird, but they were worried that it might have been a chocolate edible, and dogs can get sick from chocolate.
Luckily, the dogs had only eaten plain cannabis, and all they were doing was acting loopy. It looked like they were drunk, walking side-to-side, kinda stumbling, looking dazed and confused as well as being really sleepy. In some cases, the vet will make the dog throw up if the consumption was recent and they know they can get it out of their system. But otherwise, they just have to let it pass over the next few hours. No dog, though, has died from [straight cannabis] or anything.
Jimmy Kehoe, a dude who smokes weed around his dog all the time: If I’m about to go for a walk or run with Buddy [his dog], I’ll smoke before that, since walks can be sort of boring, and they’re a little more entertaining while high. I’ve also found that I’ll pay attention to the walk a bit more, whereas if I’m not high, I might be thinking about other stuff going on in my day and not be as aware of cars, pedestrians and whatever Buddy’s sniffing at or eating on the ground.
I never get him high on purpose or blow smoke on him, because that seems cruel. You don’t know how people are going to react to weed, let alone a dog who’s not consenting to it. But yeah, I won’t send him out of the room or anything while I’m getting high — he’ll be sitting next to me, and I’ll just kinda blow the smoke away from him. Either way, I’ve never seen him be affected by it.
Michael San Filippo, spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association: There are risks that come with smoking marijuana near your dogs: Toxic exposures are possible. Of course, the higher the concentration of active ingredients in the smoke and the longer they’re exposed, the greater their risk of being affected.
Perhaps a bigger concern, however, is that your dog may eat marijuana or marijuana products and get sick that way. Edible products, such as baked goods and straight marijuana butter, are often more concentrated in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance that produces the desired high, due to the lipophilic (fat-loving) nature of these compounds. Due to the increased concentration of THC in such edible products compared to plant material, they can cause pets to become particularly ill. These products could pose an increased risk due to additional toxic ingredients, such as chocolate, raisins or sugar-free sweeteners, such as xylitol, which could compound their toxicity.
If you smoke marijuana, we recommend that you do so away from your pets, and that you take precautions to keep marijuana and marijuana-containing products away from them. If your pets show any signs of marijuana toxicity — if they appear off-balance, rigid or nervous, if they’re drooling or dribbling urine, vocalizing or having seizures — please get them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.