(K.S. BROOKS/Chewelah Independent)
BE AWARE: Marijuana consumed in big doses can be harmful to pets…
Is Fido acting funny? That might be because your best friend is. well, baked. With marijuana now legal for recreational purposes in 10 states (Wikipedia) and for medicinal purposes in 33 states (WebMD), the incidents of pet exposure are on the climb. “In fact, over the past 6 years, Pet Poison Helpline has experienced a 448 percent increase in marijuana cases,” the Pet Poison Helpline states on its website.
Veterinarian Dorrie Black, of the veterinary clinic Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services in San Francisco, said in an article on NPR.com she sees up to three affected dogs a week in the summer. Closer to home, Chewelah Veterinary Clinic’s Dr. Jessica Adams agreed. “We have seen an increase, both in accidental ingestion (primarily edibles) and accidental overdose by people using marijuana or hemp products intentionally in their dogs,” she told The Independent.
What many people don’t realize is that dogs are much more sensitive to THC than humans. “The trace amounts in some hemp/CBD products are enough to cause reaction in dogs,” Dr. Adams explained. “Additionally, many edibles are high-fat, high-sugar and may contain chocolate, so pancreatitis and gastrointestinal upset is common on top of the THC signs.”
Other typical symptoms of marijuana overdose in dogs include: “sedation, staggering, hyper-reactivity to touch, increased startling, dilated or constricted pupils which do not respond normally to light and uncontrolled urination,” Dr. Adams said.
The Pet Poison Hotline states that “Signs of toxicity can be seen anywhere from 5 minutes to 12 hours after the animal is exposed to marijuana. The signs can potentially last 30 minutes to several days depending on the dose ingested.”
While marijuana-caused deaths seem to be rare, the NPR article referenced a Colorado study which “found that two dogs who had ingested chocolate baked goods made with marijuana-infused butter had died, but it’s unclear if this was from the marijuana, the chocolate, or the combination of those components.”
Pets, especially dogs, can find their way into marijuana a number of different ways. From discovering a stash, to pilfering some edibles, to eating the bottom of a joint or excrement from a human who has partaken in the drug, dogs can and will find it. “Child-” or “puppy-proofing” a home involved with the drug is recommended.
Current use of CBD as a pet aide is problematic, as “Only California has passed legislation that specifically authorizes veterinarians to discuss cannabis with their clients,” Consumer Reports wrote in April of 2019. And there are other concerns.
The AKC states on their website that “Currently, there has been no formal study on how CBD affects dogs.”
Dr. Adams has “discussed with colleagues whether we should be stocking or recommending any CBD products for pets in light of changes made in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
Unfortunately, at this point we still don’t have a good, reliable, consistent, approved product which we can trust to stock. There is too much variation in quality, concentration and risk of contamination in the products currently being sold without FDA evaluation.”
With CBD oil for humans now being sold at nearly every corner drugstore, and even at coffee kiosks, the future of safe CBD for pets is probably around the corner.
“There’s a lot of interest in it, and we are all looking forward to having some better information from studies currently in progress and some regulated products to recommend, but we’re not there quite yet,” Dr. Adams said.