Since the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado, far more pets are showing up at animal emergency rooms after getting into their owners’ pot products.
It’s no laughing matter – exposure to THC can make pets sick or even kill them.
Seattle-based pet insurance company Trupanion reports it handled twice as many claims for treatment in just the first two months of this year, compared to all of 2013.
“Dogs just have more access because people have more access. It’s pretty amazing the dramatic increase in the number of cases and in particular, the number of claims a pet insurance company like Trupanion sees,” said veterinarian Denise Petryk.
The company, to date, has paid out over $24,000 in marijuana toxicity claims alone, according to Petryk. While some dogs who tend to eat everything can get into your stash and eat the plain old pot, the biggest problem is edibles, especially pot butter used to make brownies and other baked goods.
“If you think about that hunk of butter sitting in your dog’s stomach, that absorbs very quickly,” Petryk said. “That’s very concentrated THC. Symptoms will be much more dramatic (and) they certainly can progress to seizures, coma, and death.”
So what do you do if the dog gets in your dope? First thing, be honest with your vet about what and how much. If you aren’t sure, there are some things to look for.
“They will first tend to be off-balance or kinda wobbly, kinda sleepy,” Petryk said. “One of the other hallmarks is that they will have uncontrolled urination, so pee will be dribbling.”
Other symptoms include depression, a lot of saliva, tremors, and even vomiting.
If you end up having to rush your pet to the vet, treatments can include pumping their stomach using activated charcoal and flushing them with liquids.
Don’t be surprised if the visit ends up costing you a pretty penny.
“When an intoxicated, stoned puppy comes to the clinic, your vet bill can easily be $800, $1,200, $3,000,” Petryk said.
In most cases, pets will recover from exposure to marijuana without any problems, but Dr. Petryk said what’s really stupid is how many people still blow smoke into their pet’s faces thinking it’s funny to get them high because that can get them sick as well.
“You have to think of your little animals a little bit like little children. You shouldn’t be blowing smoke in the face of anyone,” she said. “Go ahead, enjoy it yourself, but don’t prey on little dogs.”