With cannabis edibles everywhere, dogs get high on walks


LOS ANGELES – Bentley appeared to be in the mist. Normally, this 12-pound Chihuahua Terrier mix would never turn down hot, fresh fries from a drive-thru fast food restaurant. But on a recent hot afternoon, he turned his head away from his owner’s offer.

“He didn’t want to take them, so I knew something was wrong. He was just out of there, ”said Dana Long, a resident of Tiburon, Calif., Just north of San Francisco.

Long eventually took his dog to the vet, who informed him that his typically lively and ravenous Bentley was stoned. He had probably picked up an edible chocolate on the grounds of a nearby college, where Long’s daughter played softball.

While excessive cannabis use by dogs is not new, cases are on the rise as more states legalize the drug and its use becomes widespread, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Heaven. animals. The group’s poison control hotline suggests that as more states legalize recreational marijuana, reports of marijuana toxicity in dogs have also increased.

Between 2017 and 2020, the national volume of calls for ingestion of cannabis increased from 1,436 to 3,923 cases, said Tina Wismer, veterinarian and senior director of the New York-based ASPCA poison control center.

These numbers are probably only a fraction of the true incidence of marijuana poisonings – reporting to the control center is voluntary – but the trend is clear. In California, where recreational marijuana was legalized in November 2016, phone numbers increased 276% between 2016 and 2020. In Colorado, those numbers have increased eleven times since legalization in 2012.

“If you ask any of our emergency room vets, they’ll all tell you that the number of dogs addicted to cannabis has increased by leaps and bounds since the legalization of medical and then recreational marijuana for humans,” he said. said Karl Jandrey, professor of veterinary science. at UC Davis.

It might sound funny that so many pooches get into the saddle. But for dogs who accidentally ingest potent food intended for a human several times their weight, the narcotic effect can be severe. Additionally, if dogs chew on drugs found outdoors, it is possible that those drugs may contain chemicals other than THC, the active ingredient in the pot, several vets have said.

Some of the reported cannabis cases, perhaps the majority, are local – dogs tripping over their owner’s hiding place on the counter or couch. But an increasing number of poisonings are also occurring in “nature”.

On the Nextdoor app, dog owners in Marin County, California recently told their own stories of inadvertently “cooked” dogs on walks around the neighborhood, in nearby parks, at schools and on public beaches.

A woman, who resides in Stinson Beach, wrote that her miniature poodle had visited the emergency room four times after eating cannabis while walking around the neighborhood. The first time was on Bolinas Beach, the second on a walk through the Mill Valley neighborhood, and the other two times on walks above Stinson Market.

“Dogs love the taste and smell of the pot,” she wrote. “It makes them extremely / scary sick.”

It happens so frequently that some of these posts wondered if someone had intentionally left edibles behind to hurt dogs.

“Seriously. Otherwise, why would there be this problem? Who drops their edibles on the ground ???? They’re expensive. And why so much ???? posted another neighbor.

Dogs in Aspen, Colorado suffered a wave of cannabis poisoning in 2019. At the time, local vets speculated that the dogs were eating human feces mixed with pot.

But stoned dogs are becoming so common, Long said, that the vet tech and the vet at his local veterinary hospital immediately recognized that Bentley was high.

“I had thought maybe he was overheated,” Long said, recalling that afternoon. After the fries episode, he brought Bentley home, and it quickly became clear that something was wrong: Bentley could barely walk and seemed almost unresponsive. Long said he wrapped him in cool towels before his wife convinced him to go to the emergency vet.

When he got to the hospital, he said, the vet tech came over to greet him and gave Bentley a quick glance, and asked Long if he had any pot in the house.

“I said ‘No’ because we don’t use weed. It’s not that we morally disapprove, ”Long said. “It’s just not our thing.”

Jandrey and Wismer said classic signs of marijuana toxicity in dogs include: unsteadiness on the feet, depression, dilated eyes, dripping urine, tenderness to touch and sound, slow heartbeat and even a low body temperature. Symptoms usually start to appear about 20 to 40 minutes after exposure.

Wismer said if a dog owner suspects cannabis poisoning, they should contact their vet immediately.

In Bentley’s case, clinical tests revealed that he had likely ingested edible chocolate; a tox-screen showed the presence of chocolate.

Long has said he won’t stop walking Bentleys, but he thinks it’s important for people to know their dogs could be exposed to dumped drugs when they walk around the neighborhood. He said he was also not inclined to take her to a school or a public park again.

“Avoidance is the only prevention,” said Jandrey, who urged dog owners to modify their pet’s behavior, through training, during walks. “Dogs get into a lot of things outside and inside the house.”

– By Susanne Rust, The Los Angeles Times (Tribune News Service)

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