Some of us might have a friend whose pet accidentally ate a pot brownie once, but a veterinary hospital in Denver recently reported a significant rise in dogs coming in after ingesting marijuana edibles. Alameda East Veterinary Hospital used to see seventeen dogs a year for marijuana sickness, but since marijuana became legalized, it’s now increased to seventeen dogs a month, according to staff.
What causes dogs to become so sick from edibles? Dr. Jamie Gaynor of Peak Performance Veterinary Group says it’s hard for veterinarians to tell how much THC a dog has ingested, and that some ingredients in edibles are potentially lethal for dogs. “People don’t know how much of an edible the dog has gotten into, whether it’s one edible or a whole bag of edibles,” he explains. “Chocolate or xylitol are common ingredients in edibles, and are also toxic to the dog.”
Add in the effects of cannabis, which gets dogs much higher than humans, and you've got one more thing to keep out of reach of your furry friends. To make sure your pets are safe from any dangers of marijuana consumption, we asked Gaynor how to realistically keep edibles away from dogs, and what to do in case they eat some.
Keep edibles stored in high places
The rule “Keep out of reach of children” is often applied to dogs, too. Edibles placed at the back of the kitchen counter or in the middle of the dining table might keep edibles at bay from smaller dogs, but likely won't be far away enough for bigger, hungry dogs.
“An upper cabinet makes it easier to keep your edibles stored,” Gaynor says. “Neither a small or large dog would be able to get into it and try to ingest them.”
It's also important to remember to put away any leftover edibles right after eating them, and before the effects kick in — because we all know how much stoned people like to clean up.
If your dog eats an edible
If you notice right away that your dog ate an edible, call your veterinarian to determine the best way to help the dog vomit and avoid further problems. Hydrogen peroxide is one way to induce vomiting for your dog; just be sure to calculate how much you need based on your dog’s weight.
If it's too late, and your dog is showing signs of marijuana ingestion — exhaustion, wobbly legs or urinary incontinence — contact a veterinarian so they can provide supportive care. There’s no reversal for THC in the dog’s system, but a veterinarian can make sure that dogs ride out the effects with the proper medical attention they need.
Caring for a high dog
Once dogs have ingested marijuana, their body functions could be affected for over a day. Monitor them as they walk, especially if your house has stairs or they like to jump on furniture; it's best to keep them in a safe place until your veterinarian appointment. Closing off certain areas is useful to keep them from injuring themselves, but the best way to make sure they’re safe is constant supervision. You'll also want to monitor and possibly assist them in going to the bathroom, and making sure they don't go inside the house.
“Direct supervision is the best way to make sure they’re safe,” says Gaynor. “You never know what your dog can get into in the two minutes you’re gone to get a glass of water.”
Keeping dogs in smaller, confined areas where they can’t hurt themselves, like a laundry room, makes it easier to ensure they won’t hurt themselves, Gaynor adds.
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