A group of US vets have warned pet owners after an increase in “drug-intoxicated dogs” has been seen in emergency rooms across the country.
The recreational use of cannabis is currently legal in 18 American states.
It was made legal in California in November 2016 and a new report has shown a 276% rise in calls relating to dogs ingesting the drug from the day of legalisation.
According to The Times, local resident Dana Long, who is the owner of 12lbs Chihuahua-terrier mix Bentley, said that the problem is a serious one – and has first hand experience of it.
She said: “Bentley would never refuse hot, fresh French fries from a drive-through fast food joint. But on a recent warm afternoon, he turned his head away at when I offered. He wouldn’t take them, so I knew something was wrong. He was just out of it.”
She took her dog to a local vets, who told her that he was “stoned”.
It is thought that he had ingested a cannabis-laced chocolate treat found at a nearby park – chocolate on its own is already harmful to dogs.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that, between 2017 and 2020, national call volume for cannabis ingestion rose from 1,436 to 3,923 cases.
But in a worrying turn, those numbers are likely just a fraction of the true incidence of marijuana poisonings, as the calls are made voluntarily.
While the drug is known to have an over-relaxing effect on humans, for dogs who accidentally ingest potent edibles, the narcotic effect can be serious.
Another local resident, who remained nameless, said that “dogs like the taste and smell of pot”
In 2019, In Aspen, Colorado, a high rise in case numbers was thought that have been caused by dogs eating human faeces laced with the drug.
According to dogtime.com, signs of marijuana toxicity in dogs include: unsteadiness on their feet, depression, dilated eyes, dribbling urine, sensitivity to touch and sound, slow heart rate and even low body temperature – all of which take just 20 minutes to kick in.
Dr Stacy Meola, from Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Colorado, told the American Kennel Club last year that “the drug would not be as popular if 50 per cent of people dribbled urine when they used marijuana”.
The treatment for a drugged-up dog is an IV drip of a fat used for nutritional support, which binds to the drug, allowing it to leave the body fast than if it were left on its own.
Dogs will make a full recovery within one to two days, according to Dr Meola.