Can Drug Dogs Smell Carts?

Man’s best friend can be a nightmare for illicit drug users. Walking past a canine, wondering if drug dogs smell vape pens and cartridges. The paranoia. Followed by perfuse sweating.

Yup. It’s not a good feeling. 

And while we know a sniffer dog also searches for drugs like opioids, cocaine, heroin, or crystal meth it’s still scary. 

But since weed is becoming legal in so many places, a cannabis vape pen is not what they are typically searching for. 

However, there are exceptions as you’ll find out in this article.

drug dogs vapes

What Can Dogs Smell?

Our beloved canine friends and pet animals have up to 300 million olfactory (smell) receptors in their noses. 

While humans, on the other hand, have about 6 million. Not to mention, the part of a dog’s brain that deals with and processes smell is about 40 times greater than in humans.

Also, dogs have neophilia, which means they are naturally attracted to different odors. 

And their sense of smell is so strong that they can detect a scent at one part per trillion. This is roughly equivalent to one single drop of liquid in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

So, needless to say, their sniffers can outdo even the most advanced man-made devices.

This strong dog’s sense of smell is why they are used to sniff out drugs or explosives, find suspects and search for dead bodies and missing people. 

Drug dogs are trained to give a cue when they sniff out whatever they are looking for. 

For example, the drug dogs sit down if they catch a scent of crystal meth or other hard drugs. 

This gives their handler the signal that someone in the vicinity is carrying illegal substances, thus making it easy to hone in on the guilty party.

Trained dogs are used in this manner due to the specific shape and function of their olfactory sense. They don’t breathe and smell like human beings, whereas we do both through our noses.

Instead, dogs have a unique tissue fold inside their nostrils that allows them to smell and breathe separately. 

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When a dog exhales, the air escapes through the slits in their noses, which causes the air to swirl out and brings in new odors. Because of this, they can smell things continuously and separate distinct smells.

Another evolutionary trait is that they can wiggle their noses independently. 

Due to this, the distance between the nostrils is considerably smaller, and they can even figure out which nostril the scent entered in. 

This is why they weave their heads from side to side when zoning in on a particular smell. 

Drug sniffer dogs can detect almost any scent they have been trained to smell. They can even detect nicotine, but most sniffer dogs aren’t trained to look for that. 

But most drug dogs can smell blood, smell cannabis oil, vape cartridges, harder illegal drugs, explosives, and more. 

When it comes to smelling weed, their noses are 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than our sense of smell. So it’s no wonder drug dogs smell vape pens easily. 

Meaning drug dogs will be able to scent your weed for quite a distance. For example, a well-trained sniffer dog can smell a cannabis seed fifteen feet away! 

So, when it comes to how sensitive a dog’s nose is vs. ours when it comes to the smell of weed, you will not be able to hide it from police dog handlers and a highly trained dog or an independent K9 unit.

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Can Dogs Smell Carts?

In a brief answer, yes, a drug-sniffing dog that is trained to detect marijuana will be able to smell your cannabis vape pens and cartridges. But most aren’t trained to detect vape cartridges.

Other things that law enforcement officers with sniffer dogs can scent are:

  1. Marijuana. 
  2. Heroin. 
  3. Cocaine.
  4. Crystal Meth. 
  5. MDMA (Molly, Ecstasy). 
  6. Xanax. 
  7. Opioids. 
  8. Methamphetamines. 
  9. Fentanyl. 
  10. Kratom.

Drug dogs can be trained to scent out pretty much everything and can interpret distinct smells. 

But police dogs can sometimes go through 2-3 years of training to sharpen their sophisticated sense of smell.

When they graduate from K9 school, they are usually trained for one of three things, scenting out apprehension, so they know a guilty party when they smell one. 

Police drug dogs can also detect illicit substances and be trained in search and rescue.

But most dogs are trained with one “specialty.” For instance, german shepherds are usually trained to bite dangerous suspects and hold them hostage. 

At the same time, other breeds like bloodhounds are used to track people and search out the most dangerous substances

Can Airport Drug Dogs Smell Marijuana Carts?

Yes, airport drug dogs smell vape pens, and the dogs smell dab pens as well.

But that is not what most drug dogs are trained to detect. Sniffer dogs have to be trained on a specific substance to detect it, so with your vape pens, even though the drug dogs smell it, they will not necessarily hone in on it.  

And in most cases, a drug dog’s training is limited to only a few drugs at a time. These drugs are usually what they call “harder” drugs like heroin, crystal meth, or cocaine. 

Since marijuana use has become legal in a few states recreationally and is also legal for medical reasons, most drug dogs are not seeking out your stash of edibles, vape pens, or vape cartridge. 

Customs dogs can even smell vape cartridges that are vacuum-packed. All it takes are microscopic holes. 

But drug dogs are looking for hard drugs that leave a distinct smell, not your dab pen.

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Can TSA Dogs Smell Weed Cartridges?

The majority of TSA canines are not actively looking for marijuana, and instead, their focus is on safety. 

Yup. TSA sniffer dogs are not directly looking for your dime bag of weed or vape pen, unlike a drug dog! 

Instead, they are searching for explosives and other things that are potentially dangerous and can cause harm.

Since airport security has tightened up significantly since the 9/11 incident, they are more focused on explosives, hard drugs, and potentially dangerous suspects.

However, if you are caught at an airport in a state where marijuana or cannabis is not legal, the TSA will hand you over to local law enforcement agencies to deal with you. 

And depending on how much weed you are carrying, you can be subject to the laws of that particular state.

So, you could be at risk depending on where you are landing or stopping over. 

So it is best to leave your cannabis and vape cartridges at home unless you have a prescription and all the documentation needed to prove it.

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Dogs and Cannabis Vape Smells

Drug sniffing dogs are not usually looking for weed when they are on the job. Instead, they are looking for explosives, harder drugs, or harmful or dangerous objects. 

If you are in a state where it is legal recreationally, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you have a stopover in a state where it is illegal, we suggest that you do not exit the airport for a puff of your vape pen.

This is because you will have to go through TSA security again, and they may have a drug dog that can identify marijuana. If caught, you may be handed over to police officers at local law enforcement agencies.

If you have a medical prescription for your vape cartridges, be sure to bring all documentation with you. That way, you are covering your butt if a drug dog happens to identify you.

Wrapping Up: Can Dogs Smell Vape Pens 

Overall, we recommend that you not carry illicit substances with you while flying, even if it is just weed, because you never know what might happen if a customs dog sniffs you out. 

After all, they can easily smell THC. 

Stay safe, and leave your drugs at home. The last thing you want is to run into trained dogs that smell vape cartridges.