Feb. 7, 2013 12:42

Pet Project



We’ve all heard the joke about getting a dog high. However, in real life, medical cannabis patients usually don’t and shouldn’t give their cat or dog cannabis, just like a person would never feed an animal Paxil, ibuprofen or alcohol. Medication is a serious subject with serious consequences if consumed by your pet.

Eric Barchas, a veterinarian working in San Francisco, has seen the number of cases where a pet has been made ill from eating cannabis increase over the years.

“Serious, long-term health consequences and fatalities from marijuana intoxication are essentially unheard of,” Barchas says. “But pets that are exposed to marijuana may display anxiety and are prone to ‘bad trips.’ They may lack the coordination to consume food and water.”

Depending on the dosage, your pet will most likely survive any cannabis ingestion, but the animal is not going to enjoy the experience.

“Intoxication with marijuana appears clinically similar to other, more serious forms of poisoning,” Barchas says. “However, most animals recover from marijuana toxicity over a period of several hours.”

Individuals who have exposed their pets—either on purpose or inadvertently—to cannabis may not want to admit the fact to their vet, further endangering the pet’s health.

“Because it is a controlled substance, people who know that their pet has consumed marijuana are often reluctant to reveal this fact to veterinarians,” Barchas says.

Unless you want to put your pet through more misery, Barchas suggests that you tell the truth. “The symptoms of marijuana intoxication are similar to those of several more serious syndromes. If the veterinarian treating the pet is not aware of marijuana exposure, he or she is likely to recommend a number of expensive tests and treatments that may not be necessary.”

Treatments for a cat or dog that has consumed cannabis include forcing the animal to orally ingest a charcoal solution every four to six hours. The animal is also given plenty of water, intravenously if necessary, to restore lost fluids, to avoid dehydration and kidney failure.

The medical bills for your dog or cat can be as much as a car payment, especially if an overnight stay for observation is required.

Even if you aren’t trying to medicate your pets, they might poison themselves, warns veterinarian Jennifer Schoedler of the Alpine Animal Hospital in Durango, Colorado. “Dogs love the stuff,” Schoedler says. “I’ve seen them eat the buds, plants, joints and marijuana in food.”

So lock your meds up. Your pet really does thank you for it.

Don’t Weed the Animals

Do dogs and cats enjoy being the psychoactive effects of cannabis? According to Jennifer Bolser, a representative of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, Colorado, the answer is no. “Marijuana exposure in pets causes neurologic toxicity, which is not the same as the ‘high’ that people experience. The symptoms that develop in pets do not appear enjoyable for them,” she says.

These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of bladder control, nausea, heart palpitations, anxiety, apathy, hypothermia and reduced balance and coordination. “The neurotoxic effects of cannabis ingestion in animals usually occur within a half-hour to two hours of eating it, and usually last for about 12 hours,” says Cheryl K. Smith, an attorney and executive director for the Compassion Center in Eugene, Oregon. “However, they can last for days because the cannabinoids are stored in fat.”


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