Pubdate: Tue, 25 Mar 2014
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2014 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Trevor Hughes
Page: 3A


Accidental Ingestion of Pot a Growing Issue

Residents of Colorado and Washington state aren't the only ones 
getting high on legal marijuana: So are their four-legged friends.

The states' decision to legalize recreational pot is driving an 
increase in the number of dogs scarfing down marijuana-infused 
cookies, brownies and butters. Unlike humans who can metabolize 
marijuana in a few hours, dogs feel the effects far longer. The sight 
of a glassy-eyed dog sprawled on the floor or stumbling around 
frightens pet owners, veterinarians say.

"We see dogs stoned out of their minds for days. They're a mess," 
said Tim Hackett, director of the Colorado State University 
veterinary teaching hospital. "The pot goes in cookies and butters. 
Dogs love that stuff, and they won't eat just one."

Hackett collaborated on a study tracking the rise of marijuana 
"intoxication" in dogs and found there was a strong correlation 
between pot availability and animal overdoses in Colorado after the 
state legalized medical marijuana in 2000. He and veterinarian Kevin 
Fitzgerald, of Animal Planet's Emergency Vets, say the state's 
decision to legalize recreational sales on Jan. 1, 2014, likely will 
drive another increase.

Marijuana "edibles" such as cookies or candies are a popular 
alternative to smoking pot, in part because they're discreet and seen 
as healthier. But while pets generally won't eat marijuana plants, 
they're all-too-happy to eat baked goods if they aren't put away properly.

The marijuana itself isn't particularly harmful to dogs, Hackett 
said, but any dog that eats a pound of butter will get sick and could 
die. A stoned dog also can't vomit or breathe well, he said.

"The dogs are terrified," said Fitzgerald, a practicing veterinarian 
at VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver for nearly 30 years.

Treatment for stoned dogs can include an IV to replace lost fluids, 
said Chynel Dobbs, 26, a veterinary technician with Animal Critical 
Care and Emergency Services in suburban Denver. She said many owners 
deny there was pot in the house until vets recommend expensive tests 
to rule out more exotic causes. That's when they come clean, she said.

One evening earlier this year, Ashley Korman's 13-year-old Lab mix 
started acting funny. "It looked like he was having a stroke. He was 
stumbling. ... He couldn't walk. He fell over. His eyes were glazed," 
she said. "It was obviously a very frantic ride to the vet's."

The vet diagnosed Pugsley with marijuana poisoning despite Korman's 
insistence there was no way he could have gotten into a basement 
dresser, nosed under some clothes and removed a heavy-duty plastic 
bag containing marijuana-infused snack mix. But returning home, 
Korman found the bag beneath her bed. It was an expensive lesson: 
$3,000 for the emergency visit and tests. Korman now keeps marijuana 
products inside a lockbox.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom