Since the legalization of marijuana in most states, many vets are reporting an increase in the number pets brought to their office for accidental ingestion of marijuana. Pet Poison Hotlines have also experienced an increase in calls stating that cases have almost quadrupled. Marijuana laws have changed and people have become more lax comfortable with the drug. We are seeing marijuana being prepared in more edible forms and animals are now more likely to be exposed to it. There is no test to diagnose intoxication. There are tests to determine the levels of THC in the urine (urine drug screens are not accurate when used on pets) but the results take time making them impractical in an emergency situation. Dogs and cats can be poisoned by marijuana by inhaling second-hand smoke, eating marijuana-edibles (double the trouble if laced in chocolate), or ingesting the drug directly. A note to self …if you partake in any 420 activities you must protect your pet from accidental exposure. To date there is no known antidote to marijuana. Should your pet get exposed to marijuana a vet will only be able to do so much until the animal metabolizes the drug. If the ingestion is discovered right away, steps can be taken by your vet to prevent further absorption into the body. Your vet may try to induce vomiting which will only be effective if the drug has not made its way through their system. In more severe cases the stomach may be pumped and activated charcoal may be used to neutralize the toxin. Enemas may also be used to clear the intestines and reduce any further absorption. If the case is not that severe your pet may be kept for observation as the toxic effects of the drug wear off. This may include regulating the pet’s heart rate, administering IV fluids, and using anti-anxiety medications to calm the pet. If you think your pet has accidentally ingested marijuana contact your vet immediately or a pet poison hotline. If you are getting your pets high to amuse, entertain, or medicate them you need to understand this action is considered animal abuse. Cruelty laws differ from state to state. In most states it is a felony charge with fines of up to $5000 and imprisonment up to 10 years. The effects of marijuana differ greatly between animals and humans. Animals under the influence cannot understand what they are feeling and for some it can create anxiety. They lose coordination and become disoriented. Their pupils become dilated. Other physical signs include low or elevated heart rate, lethargy, drop in body temperature, and slow, ineffective breathing. Most side effects are temporary but can be uncomfortable for the animal. More severe cases can result in tremors, seizures and comas. No level of marijuana can be deemed safe for a pet. A small amount of THC may affect one pet more than another. With medical marijuana gaining social acceptance we ask ourselves could it also be beneficial to assist in animal care. At the present time it is illegal for vets to prescribe medical marijuana to animals. Research has not provided enough data to support or deny the medical benefits and side effects of marijuana in relation to animals. To be safe, I would say why experiment and risk harm to your pet when you can obtain safe, effective drugs from your vet. Ethically, each pet owner has a responsibility to keep harmful substances away from your pet or pets. Accidents may happen but many can be prevented to avoid unnecessary anguish and unneeded medical bills. Keep all forms of marijuana, medical or recreational, out of reach of your pet. If you notice suspicious behavior in your dog or cat take your pet to the vet or nearest emergency facility. Please feel free to leave your comments!

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