When Pets Do Marijuana

Tough to resist. But when they are dope edibles, not such a treat.

“What is wrong with you, buddy? What is wrong?” A guy says to his dog in a video last month uploaded to YouTube. The pup moans pitifully and excursions over himself. He is having trouble blinking. He gazes into nothingness; his eyes are a deep, black abyss. He is wobbling on his paws. The guy’s words break up into laughter. He understands the dog is high as a kite after thieving a strong pot brownie.

Itis a sorry state that is becoming more and more common.

The Pet Poison Helpline, a 24 hour pet poison control center, has found a fourfold increase in calls concerning pets experiencing cannabis intoxication in the last three years. The dramatic increase has been over the last 12 months.

This little man got into his owner’s stash of pot-laced brownies.

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“Over the last year alone, we have had double the pot vulnerabilities,” says Dr. Ahna Brutlag, senior veterinary toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline.

A similar increase has been found by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In 2013, the ASPCA’s poison control centers received calls on about 539 instances of creatures inadvertently have cannabis, up from 320 in 2014.

“What is stressing to us is the seriousness of instances now,” says Dr. Heidi Houchen, a veterinarian at Northwest Veterinary Specialists in Clackamas, Ore. “We however see the classic instance: red eyes, wobbly, urinating on themselves, a small twitchy … but they are able to advance through the sedate, leaning, pee-dribbling point to becoming totally comatose or totally inflexible. They have come in and had seizures. They could not come actually insensitive to touch and sound. They are able to pass away.”

Element of the issue is that pets are sneaking away cannabis products that are edible. “If a brownie is sitting on the coffee table, that dog will eat it whether it’s grass or not. I think the enticement as well as the chance for a pet is greater [with edibles],” Brutlag says.

That presents a particular risk for pets that are gluttonous. “It is not only going to eat one brownie; it will eat the entire pan,” Brutlag says. “The dose of what a dog would ingest relative to a person would really be much greater.”

Cats and dogs may also be prone to weed intoxication than people. “Every species metabolizes drugs otherwise,” says Dr. Stacy Meola, an emergency veterinarian at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo.

In the year 2012, she reported on the departures of two dogs in a study that monitored increased quantities of dog intoxications in Colorado, from cannabis intoxication. However, she says, deaths and serious complications are uncommon. The dose it requires to kill an animal like cat or a dog much outstrips the dose it requires to start acting stoned. “The two we saw expire had other confounding factors, like eating chocolate also,” says Meola. (Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is poisonous to dogs.)

And issues with cannabis continue to be much less common than toxicity from things like over the counter medicines, insecticides and rat poison, poison control centers that are pet say. Creatures can be killed by all those a lot more readily than marijuana.

It is not impossible that toxin hotlines and crisis animal care facilities are receiving more instances just because more states have decriminalized marijuana possession. “The blot is being dissolved, folks are simply more extroverted that their pet is getting into pot,” Brutlag says. And she believes it is in addition true that as more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana, the drug is getting more ubiquitous in people’s houses.

That increases the risk for poisonings, Houchen says, regardless of what form the plant is in. Pets graze on stashes of dried buds without prejudice or will munch on edibles. “I have learned of critters getting into growing operations and eating so much they’re defecating undigested plant material,” says Houchen.

That sort of unchecked ingestion of cannabis could be quite dangerous. “Once you bring marijuana into the home and it is accessible, it ought to be kept up and away from the pets just as the children,” Houchen says. “Should you’d like to make use of it, you’ve got a health permit or whatever motive, fantastic, but now do due diligence.”

Angus Rohan Chen is a reporter and radio producer residing in Nyc. He’s got no avocations and a dry wit. Please be his buddy on Twitter @angRchen.

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