Please keep pot away from pets

Vets report rise in pets poisoned by pot.

Marijuana legalization advocates and opponents may debate whether the substance is safe or harmful to humans. At the same time, veterinarians warn of the harm marijuana (or cannabis) can do to pets that ingest or inhale it. For example, animal doctors in Portland, Oregon, for example, point to a sharp increase in pet poisonings attributed to pot.

A KATU TV report indicated one Portland veterinary hospital treated 650 percent more cases in the first half of 2015 as they did in all of 2014. Nationwide, the Pet Poison Helpline and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals both report dramatic increases in pet poisonings from pot in the past year or two.

Medical experts believe pets may metabolize cannabis differently than humans do, perhaps making them particularly vulnerable to ill effects. Currently, no scientific studies seem to indicate any safe therapeutic use of cannabis for pets for any medical reason. Cannabis has been labeled as a moderate to severe poison in cats and dogs.

Rather than deliberate foul play, which would be hard to fathom, lots of pet poisonings from marijuana have been attributed to animals’ eating of pot left within their reach, either in its raw form or in cannabis-filled brownies or baked goods. Such pets may have eaten dangerously large quantities of the hallucinogenic substance. Also, when a dog eats a marijuana-laced brownie or cookie, the results can be extra scary, as chocolate can also be toxic to canines.

What are the symptoms of marijuana poisoning in pets?

Often within an hour or less, affected animals may display agitation or panic, choking, depression, diminished appetite, extreme drowsiness or stupor, fever, hypersensitivity to handling or touch, incontinence or urine dribbling, lethargy or hyperactivity, loss of coordination, low blood pressure, low heart rate, nausea, red or glassy eyes with dilated pupils, seizures, tremors, and vomiting. In the most severe cases, a pet may slip into a coma or even perish.

If cannabis poisoning is suspected, a pet needs to see a veterinary professional immediately. The marijuana exposure must be discussed clearly, if the vet is to treat the animal appropriately. Prompt treatment (perhaps including stomach pumping) is the key to the best outcome for the affected pet.

How can pot poisoning of pets be prevented?

Pets plus pot equal poison. Sometimes it really is that simple. Common sense indicates that cannabis should be kept away from pets, even if it’s legal for humans in a particular jurisdiction. Pet-proof containers are a must. Proper ventilation is another possible safeguard, keeping pets from inhaling pot smoke.
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