As more communities allow medical marijuana, or decriminalize illicit marijuana, veterinarians are seeing an alarming trend. More and more dogs are arriving in emergency animal hospitals with marijuana toxicosis, or marijuana poisoning.
A recent study in Colorado showed that 4 times as many dogs were treated for marijuana poisoning in 2010 than in 2005. Sadly, two dogs identified in that study died. Similarly, from 2008 to 2013, the Pet Poison Helpline—a poison control hotline for animals—has seen a 200% increase in calls related to pets eating marijuana.
Most times, dogs ingest marijuana accidentally by eating a marijuana “edibles,” such as cookies or brownies, or getting into their owner’s supply. However, there are some instances where people deliberately give marijuana to their dogs or blow marijuana smoke in their faces to “get them high.”
Maybe that sounds funny to people that are high, but it is very dangerous for their dog. Why?
While it is rare that a dog will die from marijuana poisoning, serious medical issues such as injury or dehydration can occur. Marijuana can cause dogs to become disoriented and lose coordination, leading to missteps and falls, even to the point they can’t drink water from their bowl.
Symptoms of marijuana poisoning in dogs include anxiety, panting, lethargy, impaired balance (staggering or being unable to walk), drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, or extreme responses to noises, movements, or other stimulus.
So, the next time you see one of those “dogs high on weed” videos on YouTube, give it a thumbs down. And be sure to keep your furry friends away from marijuana. Even if you believe in free choice when it comes to marijuana, you can agree that animals aren’t being given a choice when marijuana is carelessly left out for them to eat or when owners expose them for kicks. Even unintentional exposure from secondhand smoke can be harmful.
While the debate continues about the usefulness of medical marijuana, some veterinarian groups are looking at using compounds found in the marijuana plant for animals. However, those compounds would be carefully tested and monitored by medical professionals and have no relationship to careless exposure to helpless pets.
Tell us in comments: What would you do if you knew someone was exposing their dog or other pets to marijuana?