January 22, 2014
Increasing Number Of Dogs Ingesting Marijuana
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
With Colorado and Washington passing legislation that makes marijuana sales legal, there is a heightened focus on how this could affect society. The latest report shows that humans may not be the only ones who suffer the consequences.
The Animal Poison Control Center found that more people are calling in to report that their cat or dog has ingested marijuana. The center said that since 2009, these phone calls have risen from 213 to 320.
“Animals don’t react the same way as humans,” Dr. Tina Wismer, director of the Animal Poison Control Center, told NBC News. “They may become sedated, act drunk and wobbly, but about 25 percent go the other way. They become agitated, have high heart rates, they’re in distress. Most dogs become incontinent. They stagger around dribbling urine everywhere.”
Dogs are at risk from ingesting marijuana leaves, edibles and even bong water. Dr. Matt Booth told NBC News that his veterinary emergency center sees about a case per month, but these episodes are usually accidental. However, the veterinarian did say that one client deliberately gave his dog marijuana.
According to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care in 2012, there has been a fourfold increase in cases of dog poisonings due to marijuana at two Colorado hospitals over the past six years. This study looked at 125 cases involving pets at the Wheatridge Veterinary Specialists in Denver and Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Two of the reported incidents led to fatalities, including a dog and horse that died after eating marijuana-infused baked goods.
On January 1, 2014, Colorado retail stores began selling marijuana to 21-year-old residents and visitors of the state. Although marijuana still remains illegal federally, President Barack Obama has made it clear that for now that states that have passed this law will be left alone.
While speculation on how this legislation will affect the general public still remains up in the air, Booth said that awareness about the pet poisonings could at least bring down the reported incidents.
“As it’s become more commonplace in Boulder, and now with legalization, pet guardians have gotten pretty savvy. I see it less and less. If they haven’t had experience with it, then a friend has and word has gotten out. People are more conscientious and aware,” he told NBC News.