Dogs getting sick, stoned from discarded marijuana
Speaker 1: (00:00)
If it looks and smells like food, a dog will probably eat it and that's getting more and more canines into trouble with cannabis. The American society for the prevention of cruelty to animals says as marijuana is legalized in more places across the country, more dogs are munching on edibles and it's making them sick. ASP CA poison control calls in California for pets who have eaten cannabis have increased by almost 300% in recent years. And what can be a pleasant high for humans can make dogs sick as a dog. Johnny May as Dr. Brianna Sarvis, a veterinarian with the San Diego humane society and Dr. Service. Welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: (00:44)
Hi morning. Thanks for having me now, our
Speaker 1: (00:46)
Dogs finding and eating pieces of vegetables off the ground when they're out on walks.
Speaker 2: (00:53)
Yes. So definitely there's more edibles around now that marijuana has been legalized and anything that's around more is going to get picked up by our pets and eaten from time to time, especially with dogs.
Speaker 1: (01:06)
And how often do you see a marijuana toxicity in dogs here in San Diego?
Speaker 2: (01:11)
So in California, it's always been a pretty common emergency and the ER vets are seeing an increase. We're actually at a shelter here. So I don't treat marijuana toxicity that often, but in the emergency room, it's very frequent.
Speaker 1: (01:26)
What are the signs that a dog has gotten hold of some marijuana?
Speaker 2: (01:30)
The most common sign is going to be lethargy or wobbliness. Um, so a lot of times the owner will, uh, especially if they don't know what they may have gotten into, it'll be a very scary experience for them because their dogs suddenly won't be able to walk, um, or they'll be kind of bracing themselves with their front legs. And that's because they're really dizzy or wobbly. Um, but for an owner, it's, it's hard to recognize. Um, other things that they might do is be overly reactive to sounds or sights. So if you're coming at them, they kind of freak out or, um, to have urinary incontinence. So if your dog is just like leaking urine all the time, all of a sudden they're kind of doped up, it is very likely to be a THC toxicity.
Speaker 1: (02:12)
Now, have you seen, or have you heard of cases where dogs have eaten some marijuana that's been laced with other drugs?
Speaker 2: (02:19)
I personally have not, of course that's always a possibility. Um, but I don't know that that's such a big issue with pot as opposed to like other medications or other illicit drugs. A lot of times though, we do deal with, um, concurrent chocolate toxicity. So if they're eating a pot brownie, then we're going to have other toxicities to deal with at the same time as the marijuana toxicity.
Speaker 1: (02:43)
Well, whether it's found on the street or maybe snagged out of an owner's stash of cannabis, what attracts dogs to gobble marijuana,
Speaker 2: (02:52)
It smells good to them and dogs are kind of indiscriminate eaters. So they tend to seek out things that are, uh odiferous and they'll go for it, even if it's not in the food form. And then of course, if it's made as an edible, then it's going to be tasty. Anything that is tasty to us, it's probably going to be tasty to your pet as well.
Speaker 1: (03:11)
Is it only edibles or do dogs, you know, actually like eat bugs and plants of marijuana?
Speaker 2: (03:17)
Yes. They definitely get into plant material, edibles, uh, hash, which is like the oil or some people make it in butter for cooking purposes. So they certainly can get into any form that we may have around
Speaker 1: (03:31)
No dogs don't get high, as we would understand it, they get sick. My question is how sick do they get?
Speaker 2: (03:38)
So it really depends on the dose and the size of the pet. Um, if you have a really small pet, they're going to be more effected by whatever they've ingested. And if you have a very large pet, uh, you may not even notice anything, but if they get a large enough amount for the size of the pet, they could be very sick and they may even be comatose in very severe cases. And that could last for two or three days.
Speaker 1: (04:01)
Wow. Comatose, could it be fatal
Speaker 2: (04:03)
In rare situations? It has been fatal to some dogs, but the good news is it's very difficult to overdose a dog on marijuana. They'd have to eat a really large amount and especially an accidental overdose or, you know, especially picking up on the street or something. They're probably not going to get that much. And if the owner comes to their veterinarian, gets them treated right away, it's much more likely they're going to do well. And how
Speaker 1: (04:27)
Do you treat a dog? That's ingested cannabis. It's
Speaker 2: (04:30)
Mostly supportive care. So, um, a lot of times we'll give them fluids to kind of help flush it out of their system. And, and a lot of times that's all that's needed. They, they may not even require treatment. If it's very mild. In more severe cases, we have a medication called intralipid, which is a fat that you basically infuse into their blood. And it helps absorb up that THC and get it out of their system quicker. That is a very effective treatment for marijuana toxicity.
Speaker 1: (04:58)
When you do identify that a dog has actually eaten an amount of marijuana and it's made them ill, what kinds of reactions do you get from the owners when you tell them that?
Speaker 2: (05:11)
That's a great question. So normally the reaction is a denial because oftentimes these are pets that, you know, it's a, it's around the home and owners know it and they just won't kind of own up to it. Um, and a lot of times they'll joke like they're, they're wearing sunglasses at 8:00 PM because they don't want you to know that they've been, you know, using, um, however, if the owner had no idea, it can be very surprising to them and scary because they don't, you know, know what the effects may be, and they're afraid for their pets, their pets acting very abnormally. But once you explained to them that in general, the prognosis is very good. Uh, then they tend to feel a lot better, but at first not knowing what's wrong with your animal and seeing them look, you know, so abnormal can be super stressful for the owner.
Speaker 1: (06:02)
You kind of find that there's a lack of awareness among dog owners on how sick their pets could get from just eating an animal or a bit of cannabis.
Speaker 2: (06:12)
Yes. Certainly it's not something that's going to be on your radar, especially if it's not something that is around your home. Uh, you're just not going to expect them to get into it, but then just walking by a public park or especially after there's been a community event or somewhere where people may have been discarding bits and pieces of things, um, your pet can certainly seek those out and get into them.
Speaker 1: (06:35)
What advice do you give to dog owners about this potential marijuana menace to their pets?
Speaker 2: (06:40)
Well, definitely keep your animal on a leash. Um, unless you're in the dog park or somewhere that's known to be a safe area, that's gonna be the first safeguard of not, not allowing them to get into something that you're not expecting. Um, but also if you're in a public area, especially if there's been a big event going on, it's probably a good idea, um, to not just let them sniffer around in the bushes or, or, or dally too long, um, because it's definitely possible that, um, marijuana or other substances could be out there.
Speaker 1: (07:13)
And I've been speaking with Dr. Brianna Sarvis is she's a veterinarian with the San Diego humane society. Dr. Service. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2: (07:21)
Thank you. I appreciate it.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in California in late 2016, more and more canines are getting into trouble with cannabis.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says as marijuana is legalized in more places across the country, more dogs are munching on edibles - and it’s making them sick.
ASPCA poison control calls in California for pets who’ve eaten cannabis have increased by almost 300% in recent years.
Dr. Brieana Sarvis is a veterinarian with the San Diego Humane Society.
She joined Midday Edition on Thursday with more on the issue.