No sharing, stoners: Vet says pot can kill your dog

laura higgins photo.jpg
Laura Higgins says weed doesn't equal euphoria for pets.
Recently, a dog scarfed down a batch of pot brownies her owner purchased at a local medical marijuana dispensary -- a seemingly humorous scenario that quickly proved to be no laughing matter.

The owner "had called all her friends, and at first, they thought it was funny," says Laura Higgins, an emergency veterinarian at Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists in Longmont. "They thought the dog would be fine, even though chocolate is toxic for dogs -- that's another issue. But by the time the dog came to me, she was comatose, nearly dead."

Fortunately, the dog survived. But according to Higgins, this incident was hardly unique. She estimates that Aspen Meadow sees cases of cannabis ingestion by pets an average of once a month, and she thinks that rate may increase as medical marijuana becomes more prevalent in Colorado.

Weed toxicity most recently made headlines after a ten-month-old baby had to be hospitalized after eating some of her parents' pot edibles. But pets were left out of the equation until Higgins wrote an essay about the dangers of animals eating marijuana goods.

The cases Higgins has handled to date "have been purely accidental -- or at least no one has admitted any intended marijuana intoxications," she says. "I guess people don't want to share with their dogs."

After a laugh, she adds, "I suppose some goofballs might think it's funny. But honestly, I doubt that could happen."

A more serious problem, in Higgins' view, are people who don't immediately share the true reasons for pets' illness with medical personnel.

"We had a case where we induced vomiting in a pet, because its problems had been a really recent onset, and the dog threw up a lot of marijuana -- and the owner insisted that they honestly had no idea where it came from," she recalls. "I suppose there are some scenarios where that might happen, like maybe the dog finding some marijuana that had been lost in a park or something. But sometimes when they tell us they don't know, I think that's not true, and they're just afraid of getting in trouble."

Clients shouldn't worry about the last situation, she stresses.

"It's okay to admit it if you suspect that's what happened," she says. "There are some symptoms that may clue us in, and when we ask the owners, we may be able to draw it out. But sometimes we can't, and that just makes it harder to treat their pets. And we don't care about whether people use marijuana. If you want to tell me you have a license and you don't, that's fine. Whatever makes you comfortable. Because unless we suspect abuse, like intentionally feeding them this, we're under no obligation with the law and don't care what people do on their own time. We just want to take care of the animals the best way we can. So blame it on your roommate or your neighbor. Whatever it takes for you to say, 'I think my dog got into marijuana.'"

Dogs are the likeliest animals to do so. Although many cats like to chew on the leaves, Higgins hasn't treated any that became ill after gnawing marijuana plants from home grows.

As for the effects on dogs, she says, "The biggest things would be respiratory and cardiac issues and neurologic depression -- basically just slowing all functions down. Respiratory function can become so compromised that the dogs aren't breathing enough, and they would need to be put on a ventilator to support their breathing until they come around.

"We may also administer IV fluids to support their cardiovascular system, as well as trying to flush any toxins from their system. If they're alert when they come in, and we know what's going on, we may try to induce vomiting and trying to get rid of anything that may be in their stomach. And if they're having any heart-rate problems, we may monitor them with an EKG or treat them with medication to support their heart. And if they're vomiting on their own and have already emptied what they can, but the toxins have already been absorbed, we may give them something to treat the nausea and prevent them from becoming dehydrated."

The main symptoms pet owners are likely to see in cases of marijuana toxicity "are stumbling, loss of urinary control and vomiting -- and they can be pretty miserable," she points out. "We have no way of knowing what a dog senses in terms of how they're feeling mentally, but they come in pretty miserable. They don't appear to feel any sort of euphoria. It's all pretty much nausea and stumbling and an inability to get hold of themselves. They get pretty sick."

To date, none of the dogs treated for marijuana toxicity at Aspen Meadow have died, largely because the emergency personnel have been able to treat them in time. All of them have recovered well, Higgins says.

Still, the possibility of a fatality remains -- and perhaps even grows.


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11 comments
e1m2rex
e1m2rex

this whole artical is BS "Recently, a dog scarfed down a batch of pot BROWNIES (AKA CHOCHALATE AKA POISION TO DOGS) her owner purchased at a local medical marijuana dispensary" so weather it was pot brownies or reglular browners it would be bad

michaelkaer
michaelkaer

Dr. Grinspoon says it is "remarkably NON-TOXIC". That is a direct quote. He has been studying this plant for about 50 years and I would take his word for it. Weed toxicity is complete bullshit. The vet does not know what they are talking about.

Norm
Norm

If a person stirred a teaspoon of cinnamon into a pint of gasoline, drank the gasoline and died, would it be honest to say that the person died of "cinnamon toxicity"?

If a dog eats a plate of cannabis brownies, it is the chocolate and the butter/cooking oil that makes the dog sick, not the cannabis.


Michaelrobertsacunt
Michaelrobertsacunt

This is a terribly one-sided article.Michael you are a TERRIBLE journalist. But I guess you just work for the media which is biased as usual. How bout interviewing, I don't know, MORE THAN ONE VET. Because the vet here is copping out of the fact that the dog ate theobromine found in the chocolate. Did you mention that Michael? No? Oh that's right, a journalist does something called RESEARCH.You should really be ashamed of yourself. How you could you possible conclude that the possibility of fatality could rise if there are no accounts of it even happening?Do your job next time and stop spreading biased bullshit articles.

sweetface7117
sweetface7117

I'm tired of people getting defensive and stating marijuana can't kill an animal. It's not that it poisons the dog and kills them. It's that depending on dog size and how much it ate can be fatal. The marijuana slows the heart rate, slows breathing (ending in a coma or the heart can stop beating) and induces vomiting (which being unable to stand up can cause the dog to inhale and choke on its own vomit), therefore marijuana being eaten by a dog CAN cause death. So stop getting defensive. No, it's not a poison. But the effects it has on the dog depending in the circumstance can be fatal.

stuka1
stuka1

"Higgins told us about an incident in which a dog scarfed down A BATCH of pot BROWNIES.

Laura Higgins."They thought the dog would be fine, even though CHOCOLATE IS TOXIC FOR DOGS -- that's another issue,"

I CALL BULLSHIT!  

The dog ate A BATCH of CHOCOLATE brownies and wound up POISONED BY THE CHOCOLATE IN A BATCH OF BROWNIES (DUUUUHHHH!!!!!).  

LAURA HIGGINS IS A DAMNED LIAR pointing to cannabis as the cause of the dog's distress and claiming of the CHOCOLATE, "that's another issue". The CHOCOLATE is not "ANOTHER ISSUE". The CHOCOLATE IS THE ISSUE.  CHOCOLATE IS KNOWN TO BE TOXIC TO DOGS.

Gotta love that Good Ol' REEFER MADNESS. 


IcePick
IcePick

"To date, none of the dogs treated for marijuana toxicity at Aspen Meadow have died, largely because the emergency personnel have been able to treat them in time. All of them have recovered well, Higgins says."

 

Horseshit.  

 

The reason none of the dogs have died is because cannabis is NOT TOXIC to mammals.  In fact there has NEVER been any evidence of any mammal ever dying as a result of consuming cannabis or it's derivatives.

michaelkaer
michaelkaer

@sweetface7117  See my later post and you will see that what you are saying bullshit. There is no such thing as cannabis toxicity. Dr. Grinspoon has proved it is remarkably NON-TOXIC. It is not your fault. There is a lot of mis-information out there. 

stuka1
stuka1

"Higgins told us about an incident in which a dog scarfed down A BATCH of pot BROWNIES.

Laura Higgins."They thought the dog would be fine, even though CHOCOLATE IS TOXIC FOR DOGS -- that's another issue,"

 Man gets run over by a car and killed while eating a sandwich and crossing the street.

 LAURA HIGGINS WOULD CLAIM THAT THE SANDWICH AND NOT THE FUCKING CAR KILLED THE MAN.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @IcePick Thanks for commenting on this vintage post, IcePick. Much appreciated.

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