As more states legalize medical marijuana (31 as we went to press) along with recreational pot (nine so far), more dogs are getting sick from it. They scarf down a discarded joint while out on a romp, for example, or snatch some unguarded marijuana-laced food off the kitchen counter. The Animal Poison Control Center says marijuana-related calls to its Pet Poison Hotline (855-764-7601) have increased 448 percent over the last six years. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) has also seen a significant increase in calls about pets poisoned with marijuana. Ninety percent of the calls have been about dogs, who are much more adventurous eaters than cats.
Signs of marijuana toxicity in dogs include urinary incontinence, low or high heart rate, disorientation and stumbling around, respiratory depression, tremors, unconsciousness, and, in severe cases, seizures and agitation. Treatment at the vet’s may include induced vomiting and hydration. Many, but not all dogs, can go home the same day; the effects wear off within a couple of days, although in the most severe cases, dogs have fallen into a coma.
If you use marijuana either for medical or recreational reasons, be sure not to leave it in a place where your curious dog can get into it. Keep in mind, too, that marijuana smoke can cause a contact buzz, just as in people. The difference is that dogs are much smaller, so the effect, given a specific amount, is much greater. Don’t smoke marijuana in a room where your dog is or will soon be lounging.