Jaxson loves to get into the sock drawer. Bailey is known to swipe food off the plate when you’re not looking. And Ginger, well, garbage diving is her guilty pleasure.
Dogs get into things — especially things that involve food. And with more marijuana, including edibles, becoming available for humans, there could be a risk for those pets predisposed to sampling interesting goodies around the house.
So what happens if your pet has gotten past your preventative measures and gets into weed?
We asked Dr. Judy Morgan, a New Jersey-based holistic veterinarian who is the author of three books on holistic pet care, including “Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs,” a holistic cookbook for pets, and here’s what she had to say:
Q. With increasing cannabis legalization, are you seeing more cases of pets getting into marijuana?
Actually, I have not seen an increase in my practice, but I do read about increased calls to Pet Poison hotlines. Pet Poison Helpline reported 448 percent increase over the past six years. And some practices in states where recreational marijuana is legal are reporting an increase in cases.
Q. How does cannabis affect animals?
Animals have a low tolerance for THC in cannabis. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, can have big benefits for dogs and cats. CBD oil with essentially no [less than 0.3 percent] THC is used commonly to treat anxiety, seizures, pain, and digestive upsets secondary to chemotherapy. Some feel there may be some cancer-preventing or treatment benefits, as well. It is commonly being incorporated into cancer treatment protocols by holistic veterinarians.
Q. What are the signs of intoxication? What are the risks?
Common symptoms include ataxia — walking in a drunken manner — dilated or glazed eyes, dull mentation [mental activity], vomiting, dribbling urine — sometimes that is the giveaway — and rapid or slow heart rate. Some pets will show agitation while others will show stupor. This may be dose-dependent. [The risks are] coma, seizures, and death may occur with high enough ingestion.
Q. If a pet owner discovers his or her dog (or cat) got into marijuana, what should they do
If the pet owner knows the pet ingested the marijuana within the past hour, attempting to make the animal vomit up anything remaining in the stomach may be helpful. Hydrogen peroxide syringed into the mouth generally will induce vomiting quickly.
If the animal is stuporous, do not make them vomit. … The pet should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Do not wait for the next day — find an emergency or 24-hour facility on nights and weekends.
Supportive care with IV fluids, heat pads if needed, and administration of activated charcoal to absorb remaining toxins may be performed, depending on severity. In severely comatose animals, ventilatory support with a respirator may be required.
Symptoms may last for days. Don’t try to hide the fact that the pet ate marijuana, whether you are in a state where it is legal or not. The veterinarian is not going to turn you in to authorities. They only care about treating the pet.