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Is Marijuana Dangerous to Dogs? Detroit Couple Finds Out After Pet is 'Poisoned'

By Brandon Kane    August 06, 2015 / (1) comments

The consumption of edible marijuana can sometimes cause an adverse reaction in some users, but those side effects can turn harmful and may even lead to a stay in the emergency room if the user is an unsuspecting dog.


That was indeed the case when a Detroit family noticed their 5-month-old German Shepherd was drooling excessively and running in fear from her owners for seemingly no reason.


According to a report from clickondetroit.com, the homeowners noticed the odd reactions and behaviors coming from their dog, Zena, after she had been let out in the yard. After monitoring her situation, Zena was taken to an emergency vet where the only anomaly on her blood panel was a positive result for marijuana.


The owners said marijuana was thrown into their yard. No report has been filed and police told the website they are “looking into it.”


While the couple was left with a $2,000 medical bill and a mystery as to who got their dog high, they said they were happy to have Zena back home safe. But this incident does raise the question as more and more states are legalizing marijuana: how dangerous is it for dogs, and what should you do if your dog ingests marijuana?


Is Marijuana Dangerous for Dogs?



Even though dogs can be exposed to the drug in different ways, the symptoms can be hard to diagnose, according to Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinarian and petMD spokesperson.


She said some of the signs of intoxication include incoordination, lethargy, mental dullness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, and sometimes dribbling of urine and vomiting. Adding that while most dogs will recover, Coates said ingestion can sometimes be fatal.


“Most dogs who ingest marijuana will recover with supportive and symptomatic care, but a study published in 2012 showed that of 125 dogs identified as having been exposed to marijuana, two died after choking on their own vomit,” Coates said.


According to the study, both dogs ate marijuana edibles made with medical grade THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) butter.


Coates said symptoms usually develop within a few hours of ingestion, and that while intoxication in dogs is not that serious of a problem, they should still pay a visit to the local vet where testing for potential drugs and toxins, including marijuana, can be performed.


Treatment usually involves inducing vomiting or giving activated charcoal (which absorbes the toxin) to the dog if it is brought in quickly enough. She added that the vast majority of dogs, like Zena, that have ingested marijuana recover uneventfully.


“If you ever suspect that your dog may have ingested marijuana, call your veterinarian or 24-hour veterinary emergency clinic to determine if you should bring your dog in for treatment,” Coates said.



Image: (Not Zena) Roger costa morera / Shutterstock



Comments  1

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  • Possible marijuana ingest
    04/04/2016 07:04pm

    Possible marijuana ingestion - I took my two hounds on a hike right after spring break where the local kids hang out. When we returned home my five-month-old puppy would not get out of the crate which was unusual. She jumped up on the sofa which was also unusual and when I checked on her had completely lost urinary continence. When I moved her, she ran and jumped up on another sofa and lost continence there too. I also noticed she was very wonky and wobbly gaited. A friend came by and suggested she was drunk! At that point I realized she had probably ingested some pot.
    I took her to the VCA emergency clinic which was very busy on a Saturday night. The solo veterinarian also suspected possible marijuana ingestion after examining her. All vitals were stable and the vet suggested a urine drug test called a CystocentesIs. The procedure is a needle into the bladder so that you get a sterile sample without any bacteria.
    This urine drug test looks for THC/marijuana, Methamphetamine (crystal meth/speed), Cocaine and Opiates (relaxants.) The vet tech told me they typically suggest an overnight observation with IV fluids.
    The estimate was $800-$1,000. Ouch even with Pet Insurance.
    The pup is normally highly sensitive and emotional typical of the breed.
    I declined that test and asked for subcutaneous fluid's instead divided and administered on both shoulders. The vet tech told me if evidence of marijuana were found, I may be able to go home and provide observation (better than the clinic) but that would be in a "best case scenario."
    I decided to take her home.
    The second day was stressful. I was looking for signs of vomiting (never) decreased appetite (she was voracious - munchies?) increased or decreased thirst (normal) diarrhea (regular evacuation with just a bit of soft form presented) hyper-excitability (glimpses of puppy behaviors) hyperthermia (severely increased body temperature/fever - although toxins may raise temperature slightly) tremors, seizures, abnormal behavior, hind limb weakness or wobbly gait...what I observed was the pup was still a bit confused and lethargic. She was still processing the bad trip and metabolizing the THC toxin. I did give her activated charcoal about 3 hours after her meals help absorb any toxins in her intestines...but the timing may have been off on that. By the end of the day she was so over my poking and prodding as the subcutaneous fluids had migrated down her rib cage and pooled there...but that can also happen. It did take over 24 hours for all of the fluids to be re absorbed. Hydration in puppies and canines is critical to protect the kidneys and liver. That is why I chose to go with the subcutaneous fluids. But it has been an emotional roller coaster.
    Day Two - I am happy to report that my puppy is back to her goofy puppy self. However, we will take it easy today too as a precaution.
    We will go to her regular vet and have a basic chemistry panel, checking organ function and electrolytes. Possibly a urine sample via cystocentesis (needle in bladder - but the pup won't be high!) to evaluate concentration ability.
    If I had to do this over, now that I understand the drug testing procedure I would would elect to do it just in case it wasn't marijuana.
    Some mushrooms are highly toxic and can be fatal.
    I would still administer fluids to protect the organs and help the system flush the toxins and administer activated charcoal immediately instead of the next day if indicated.
    I will also be posting signs on the local trail asking the kids to keep an eye on their stash, roaches, joints and brownies!
    Good luck - if you ever have to take this trip.