With legalized pot on the horizon, at least one emergency vet in Toronto has noticed a troubling trend.
Cases of dogs accidentally ingesting medical marijuana have been on the rise.
“There’s definitely been an increase over the last year to two years of marijuana ingestion,” said Barbara Bryer, who has worked in emergency veterinary medicine for 18 years.
Bryer, who now practises at Veterinary Emergency Clinic at Yonge St. and Davenport Rd., finds pet owners now more freely admit when a pet accidentally gobbles up pot cookies or some other form of cannabis.
“When I first started, it was hard to tease out whether or not that was a possibility,” she added. “Now they often come in and say ‘I think he ingested marijuana.’”
So far in 2016, the 24/7 emergency clinic has seen close to 100 cases of accidental marijuana ingestion — around two cases a week on average, according to Bryer.
Years ago, though, she’d see maybe 25 to 50 cases of accidental ingestion a year.
“I think we’re seeing more concentrated strengths and strains. And it’s a variable as far as how much they eat — we don’t have a good measurement of how many milligrams per kilogram makes a toxic dose for a dog.”
In the U.S., as legal weed become a reality in more states, vets report they are seeing a sharp increase in cases of pets accidentally getting high, according to The Washington Post.
One veterinarian in a Portland suburb reported treating a few cases a week.
While fatalities are rare, a pet poison helpline in the U.S. has seen a 330% rise in calls about stoned pets over the past five years.
A year after pot became legal in Oregon, a Portland clinic reported a 63% rise in marijuana toxicity cases.
Bryer, meanwhile, said it’s pretty much all dogs that get into trouble with marijuana.
Cats are “picky about things,” she explained.
Dogs, however, will are prone to wolfing down spiked baked goods, residual material from marijuana butter or even joint stubs.
“What we usually try and enforce is that we’re here to help and that we’re not trying to embarrass them. There’s no criminal aspect to this, unless the owners have intentionally given it to their pets, which I’ve never seen,” Bryer said.
According to Dr. Bersenas, chief of emergency and critical care service at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, a stoned dog will display symptoms, including dribbling urine, looking dazed or glassy-eyed, vomiting, and maintaining a low body temperature.
“The majority of them come in really stoned, like very blah and quiet and uncoordinated and glassy-eyed looking,” she said.
They are usually treated with intravenous fluids to help rid their bodies of marijuana faster.
Excessively intoxicated animals can see their heart rate change.
In severe cases, they can become “completely nonresponsive, almost in a coma.” Very rarely do vets have to put the animal on a ventilator.
Most are stable but uncoordinated and “goofy,” Bersena added. They recover with IV fluids and warm packs, going home within 24 to 36 hours.
— With files from The Washington Post
Pot referendums planned Tuesday
Marijuana will be the subject of referendums in nine American states when voters go to the polls to pick a new president on Tuesday:
•California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada: Referendum on legalizing the recreational use of marijuana
•North Dakota, Arkansas, Florida: Referendum on whether marijuana for medical purposes should be allowed
•Montana: Referendum on whether restrictions on current medical marijuana laws should be eased
— The Associated Press