Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jan 2018
Source: Cape Breton Post (CN NS)
Copyright: 2018 Cape Breton Post
Author: Kevin Bissett
Page: A5


Increasing numbers of dogs are being sickened by marijuana,
veterinarians warn

Veterinarians say they're seeing an increasing number of dogs sickened
after ingesting marijuana, and are warning pet owners to take care as
Canada prepares for cannabis legalization this year.

Dr. Jeff Goodall, a veterinarian who runs the Sunnyview Animal Centre
in Bedford, N.S., said he's seeing a growing number of dogs with
marijuana toxicity.

"It profoundly affects the neurological system. It can progress to
tremors and seizures, and they can go into a coma," he said Tuesday.

Goodall said his Halifax-area clinic saw five cases in 2017, three in
2016, and none the year before that.

He said the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in marijuana doesn't make dogs
high. Rather, it makes them very sick.

"The THCs are very toxic to pets in the sense that they cause profound
levels of confusion, then the dogs start to cry or vocalize and become
hyperactive. They get through that period fairly quickly and then they
begin to drool and become unable to walk properly," Goodall said.

"By the time they're in the clinic it's very clear that they have
marijuana toxicity because the poor dogs have excessive or
uncontrolled urination."

In rare cases it can lead to death. Goodall said in four of the five
cases he saw last year, the owners were upfront about the cause of
their dog's illness and they were able to proceed quickly with treatment.

However he said the owner in the fifth case was in

"She was accusing us of accusing her children of using recreational
medication, when that wasn't what we were saying at all. We were just
saying, this is what the dog has," he said.

Goodall said cannabis edibles are also harmful to dogs.

"One of our cases this year was cannabis-containing brownies. We also
had another dog who ate a bag of suckers. The problem there wasn't the
cannabis, it was the xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often
used in sugar-free gum, and it is extremely concerning to pets," he

Goodall said he'd like to see warnings and greater public education on
what marijuana can do to pets.

In Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, there
was a four-fold increase in reported cases of toxicity in dogs between
2010 and 2015.

An article posted on the website of the Canadian Veterinary Medical
Association says dogs are proportionally more sensitive to the active
compounds in marijuana than people, and in small dogs, excessive
intake can easily result in signs of toxicity.

It also says that cats are not immune to the toxic side effects but
are more selective in what they eat. They also lack the sweet tooth
that would make cannabis edibles as attractive as they are to dogs.

Goodall said there are other components in cannabis that may
eventually prove useful in treating some symptoms and illnesses in
pets, but more research needs to be done.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association says for now, marijuana is
not approved for medicinal use in animals.

"Giving products to your pet may have unknown side effects and
unproven effectiveness. Especially exposing them to THC-rich
recreational marijuana could put them in a life-threatening medical
crisis," its article states.
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