Accidental consumption of marijuana by house pets may increase once it is legalized on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Calgary veterinarians suspect that there will be a rise in incidents of house pets accidently consuming cannabis, when it becomes more accessible.
The problem has already shown up at vet clinics in the city.
“I would see at least one case a week of a dog coming in stoned,” said Victoria Masse, a receptionist for a local veterinary hospital.
Pets who consume marijuana can experience extreme lethargy, breathing problems, loss of balance, uncontrollable urination, lower blood pressure, seizures and even death.
Many local vets, such as West Mount Animal Clinic, are not equipped as the major veterinary hospitals are, and may turn away patients.
“A lot of the times when someone brought in a dog high they would deny that their pet ate some weed,” said Masse. “It’s not till after we do the toxicity test when we find out the pet is high.”
The majority of house pets that do accidentally consume marijuana are dogs due to their eat first, ask questions later attitude, according to marketplace.com.
The number of cannabis consumers over the past eight years has grown substantially, according to a survey conducted by the Government of Canada that collected information by age group.
In 2010, 1,233,000 people between the ages of 18-24 consumed cannabis. In 2017, 2,104,800 in the same age group used it, an increase of more than 100,000 people per year.
In the U.S., there has been a 50-per-cent increase in house pets ingesting cannabis, in states where it is legal.
“Veterinarians have seen another big increase in patients exposed to marijuana since recreational pot shops opened at the beginning of 2014,” said Dr. Jennifer Coates on the Pet MD website.
“The researchers found a 400-per-cent increase in the number of dogs being brought into Wheatridge Veterinary Specialists in Denver and Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins after legalization,” she wrote.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the risk of marijuana poisoning dogs is moderate to severe and the ingestion of too much can be life threatening.
The risk variws with the size of the dog and the type of strain the marijuana is.
Dogs and cats can also get high by second-hand inhalation of smoke, eating marijuana laced foods, or ingesting the marijuana buds.
The component in marijuana that is pernicious to animals is THC, which is what gives off the “high” effect.
An article on the VAC website written by Lynn Buzhardt says that when the THC in marijuana enters the body it binds with specific neuro-receptors in the brain, changing normal neurotransmitter functions.
“At first when you see a pet that is in a high state you think it’s funny,” said Masse. “But the longer you see the animal act like that it’s scary and sad.”
There are some marijuana supplements that you can purchase for your pet to take.
These pet friendly marijuana supplements are used mainly to relive pain and stimulate appetite.
According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, pet owners who administer these products without veterinary consultation, as some have done when traditional medicines have failed, are doing so even though no proven safe and effective doses have been determined.
Veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe any marijuana supplements for pets.