Who does not love that warm, decadent smell of home-made brownies from the oven? Topped with some ice cream and even chocolate syrup, a brownie dessert is hard to pass up. Unfortunately, chocolate is toxic to dogs so fortunately, you don’t need to share. However, there is a recent increase in a new brownie recipe twist: the addition of marijuana. An astonishing number of pets have been coming in with marijuana toxicity. Unfortunately, this number is likely to increase with the legalization of this drug. Here is what you need to know:
- Marijuana has a number of names (hemp, Mary Jane, grass, pot, weed, THC, hashish). In pets, it is quickly absorbed from their guts and kept in circulation by the liver. Pets can also become intoxicated by smoke that is inhaled and absorbed into the lungs.
- A number of signs can be seen in pets with marijuana toxicity. Vomiting, rapid breathing and depression can be seen. Pets can also become ataxic or wobbly, uncoordinated and develop nystagmus (pupil moves rapidly side to side, instead of staying still). Hallucination can occur, and pets can become agitated at minor stimulation or even nothing at all. Pets can also “swing” from excitement to depression, making them unpredictable. More seriously their heart rate can drop disturbingly low. Marijuana can even cause death, depending on the amount of drug ingested.
- If you are aware that your pet has ingested some marijuana, call your veterinarian. Early decontamination is key!
- Please store any marijuana and associated products out of reach of any pets. This will protect your children as well.
- Be honest. If you know, let us know. This helps us treat your pet much more effectively. Similar signs can be caused by neurological and metabolic conditions, as well as other toxins.
- Marijuana is a drug. Do NOT use this drug to treat your pet.
Marijuana has been around for a while and with legalization, will become a lot more commonplace. It is our responsibility to use it properly. This drug can have devastating effects on lives, both people and pets. We hope that everyone continues to enjoy many “high” lights from the summer of 2018!
Written by Dr. Rhonda Boulter, DVM