The landslide of legislation legalizing marijuana across the US is having a rather unusual side effect – an uptick in the number of people calling their vet because their pet has managed to get a hold of their stash.
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, the number of concerned pet owners ringing up the Veterinary Services Poison Helpline has soared by 448 percent in just six years. And while cats and even raccoons have been known to ingest cannabis, dogs are the worst culprits. Ninety percent of incidents involve dogs, Laura Stern, a veterinarian with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, told NBC.
First things first: Dogs are unlikely to die from cannabis. That is not to say THC, a chemical compound responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive properties, cannot result in some pretty horrid symptoms, including vomiting, abnormal heart rate, low body temperature, and low blood pressure.
“The best way to compare it is to the idea of a really bad trip," Peter Bowie, a veterinarian at Pet Emergency & Special Center of Marin, California, told NBC. He says he often sees four or five cases like these a week.
In extreme cases, it can cause seizures, comas, and even death – so veterinarian attention as soon as you notice any symptoms (or realize your pet has been sneaking into your supply) is important. The good news is that while prevention is always best, there are treatments available should they be needed.
The reason dogs display such an adverse reaction is due to their higher concentrations of cannabinoid receptors. This makes them more susceptible to the drug's effects. The more concentrated the THC, therefore, the more severe the reaction.
Edibles can be particularly troublesome, not just because of their higher THC content but because they can contain other harmful ingredients like chocolate or (if you prefer healthier options) raisins.
As far as medical marijuana for pets goes (yes, that is a thing), it may be worth giving it a miss, for now. There is evidence to suggest there may be therapeutic benefits to prescribing your canine or feline (THC-free) cannabis products but information concerning efficacy, dosage size, and potential side effects have not been fully established.