Marijuana & Tobacco–Hazardous for Our Pets

Marijuana & Tobacco–Hazardous for Our Pets

Although not found in every home, tobacco and tobacco cessation products that contain nicotine and marijuana used for medical or recreational purposes, can legally be in any home in Maine. Even if these products are not in your home, your pet may find them outdoors, in the park, or on a walk. The nicotine in the tobacco and smoking cessation products and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana edibles and smokables can kill a pet.

Nicotine is a psychoactive and highly addictive substance found naturally in tobacco. Tobacco products are a nicotine delivery system. These products include cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, or snuff. Since the advent of e-cigarettes, vape pens, or whatever, humans can now ingest nicotine without ingesting tobacco. Most smoking cessation products, such as gum, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, and patches, also include nicotine.
There is no antidote for nicotine poisoning, so immediate veterinary care is mandatory. Pets can and have died from nicotine poisoning.
How your dog will be affected by nicotine ingestion depends on what it has ingested and its size. Smaller dogs will be more susceptible. Items with the highest nicotine concentration are the most dangerous and include cigars, vaping pods, e-juice, and nicotine patches. These products should be secured so that a child or pet can't gain access to them.
The CDC states that 50 to 60mgs of nicotine is a deadly dose for an adult weighing 150 pounds. For pets, the toxic amount of nicotine is 0.5 to 1mg per pound of body weight. The lethal dose is 4mg per pound of body weight. A 20lb dog can get a deadly dose of nicotine from 2.7 cigarettes, as little as 0.18 of a cigar, a single vape pod, or a nicotine patch.
Marijuana or cannabis has been used as a recreational drug and for medical purposes for many years. In the past several years, it has become legal in many states. In 2022, a study published in PLOS ONE reported, “…a 448% increase in reports of cannabis poisoning cases in companion animals in the United States (USA) and Canada. The Animal Poison Control Center has also reported a 765% increase in calls regarding pets ingesting cannabis in 2019 compared to the previous year.”  

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the psychoactive component of marijuana that causes a high and which is toxic to dogs. As growers create strains with increasingly higher levels of THC, this becomes a more significant problem. Edible products often include higher levels of THC, and their ingestion by a pet is typically more severe. Clients and other pet care professionals have shared the following with me.
Case 1 – A puppy that was walked on trails and ingested a joint disposed of along the trail on two separate occasions. Both times, the puppy exhibited symptoms and required emergency treatment at a veterinary ER.
Case 2 – A pet parent observed a puppy exhibiting signs of THC toxicity and was advised to bring the pup into the veterinary ER, where they were treated and recovered. What the puppy ingested or where it obtained it is unclear.
Case 3 – An individual in the marijuana industry was processing marijuana for a product he was making to sell. The waste from the process was disposed of in a compost pile where his dog found it, consumed some, and exhibited signs of severe toxicity. Despite the work of the dog's veterinarian, the dog did not survive.
Please be aware of the symptoms your pet could exhibit if it ingests nicotine or marijuana. If you have these products in your home, please ensure they are secured so that pets and children cannot get to them.

Don Hanson lives in Bangor, Maine, where he is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( and the founder of, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. He is a Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accredited by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB)and a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). Don is a member of thePet Professional Guild (PPG), where he serves on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairs the Advocacy Committee. He is also a founding director of Pet Advocacy International (PIAI). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Showpodcast,available at,the Apple Podcast app, and Don's blog: opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

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