This week one of my out of town friends called to ask me about their friends’ dog that was acting strange. It was a 3-month-old Australian Shepherd that had been playing in the yard with their other dog. After about 30 minutes in the yard the pup came in vomited and started acting weird. Walking sideways, staring at the wall, backing up and wanting to sleep. She even sent me a video. I instructed them to go to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. The next day she called to tell me that they had taken the dog to the ER. The pup had pot exposure. The owners had thrown their pot butts (roach) in the yard after smoking. The young pup had ingested them.
Cats and Dogs an become intoxicated by cannabis in many ways; by inhaling second-hand smoke, eating edibles (baked goods, candies, chocolate bars, and chips), or ingesting cannabis directly in any form. Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains, which means the effects of cannabis are more dramatic and potentially more toxic when compared to humans. A small amount of cannabis is all it takes to cause toxicity in cats and dogs.
Accurate and complete information is imperative to treating the patient successfully.
Everything that enters the body has to exit the body. THC is very lipid-soluble, which means that it is easily stored in the fatty tissue in the liver, brain, and kidneys before being eliminated from the body. THC is metabolized in the liver and majority (65-90% is excreted in the feces, while a small percentage (10-35% is eliminated through the kidneys. The drug has to be metabolized and excreted for the effects to wear off.
Many of the signs of intoxication are neurological. Pets may become wobbly and uncoordinated. They may be hyperactive, disoriented, and very vocal. Their pupils may dilate, giving them a wild-eyed appearance. They may drool excessively or vomit. They may develop urinary leakage. In severe cases, tremors, seizures and coma result. Side effects are usually short-lived, but they can still be dangerous.
Physical signs include low or elevated heart rate and blood pressure and slowed breathing rate.
Sleepiness and increases or decreased in body temperature may also be observed.
Pot intoxication is based on accurate history and clinical signs. The diagnosis is made much more rapidly when responsible pet owners provide accurate information regarding the pet’s exposure.
Be responsible when it comes to cannabis use and pets. Keep all forms of cannabis, medical or recreational, out of reach or your pet. Store in high and locked cabinets. Keep pets in a well-ventilated room, away from secondhand smoke. Pets have a wonderful sensitive sense of smell and are attracted to eat candies, chips, chocolates and other cannabis treats if accessible. If you notice suspicious behavior in your cat or dog and pot exposure is a possibility, take your pet your veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinary hospital immediately.
If you have questions about your pet’s health contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood of Trumann Animal Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org