Sunday, September 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Dogs’ pot poisoning soars as pets dig through trash, stash

dog1W

Dr. Jill Chase, owner and veterinarian at Ocean Beach Veterinary Clinic, uses an ophthalmoscope while examining Baby, a pug dog, in San Francisco on Dec. 23. Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle photo

By
From page A5 | January 05, 2014 |

By Katherine Seligman

San Francisco veterinarian Jill Chase had just finished hosting a birthday party for her son 10 years ago when her dog went limp. After investigating what might have caused the problem, she discovered the culprit: cannabis-infused butter that a neighbor had dumped in the garbage down the street. Her dog, a Tibetan terrier who was a habitual trash surfer, had eaten a large dose.

“He was completely OD’d in a coma for three days, on my bathroom floor with an IV,” said Chase, whose dog eventually recovered.

Since Chase’s experience, cases of marijuana poisoning in dogs have increased, particularly in states like California where medical marijuana is legal. As one veterinarian put it, our dogs are “munching out.” Dogs are known to be indiscriminate eaters, going after paper, trash, random objects on the street and, now, their best friend’s cannabis.

The Pet Poison Hotline, which takes calls from around the country and Canada, noted a 200 percent increase in reported incidents of poisoning in the past five years. Dr. Lori Green, a critical care veterinarian at the San Francisco SPCA Veterinary Hospital, says the clinic treats as many as three dogs a week for symptoms of marijuana toxicity: trembling, vomiting and walking troubles.

“There’s been an increase as marijuana becomes more acceptable in public and less of an underworld thing,” said Dr. Karl Jandrey, an assistant clinical professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where the animal hospital treated 27 dogs for pot poisoning in the past year, up from four in 2010.

Different effect
A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care in 2012 reported a correlation between the increase in the number of medical marijuana cardholders and the number of dogs getting poisoned. The study found a fourfold increase in cases seen at two Colorado hospitals over six years. All but two dogs — who ate cannabis butter — survived.

If only a small amount of marijuana is consumed, dogs may become listless or depressed. Pot affects dogs differently than it does humans, veterinarians say, because dogs don’t have liver enzymes to metabolize tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. At higher doses, marijuana can cause dogs to vomit, lose coordination and bladder control, have tremors, and be nervous and over-reactive. Their body temperature and heart rate may drop.

In extreme cases dogs may suffer seizures or seem unresponsive, but THC poisoning is rarely fatal. Dogs usually recover in 12 to 24 hours, though signs can last up to 72 hours.

“We had one dog affected for three days, but it turns out there was psilocybin and antidepressant in the brownie,” Green said. “It was a healthy young dog, but it got the whole cocktail.”

Few poisonings fatal
A urine test can determine if THC is present, but most dogs are diagnosed based on symptoms, which veterinarians say makes it hard to document the exact number of cases. While many owners take dogs to the veterinarian, an unknown number of others call for advice, consult the Internet or wait out the symptoms at home.

A 2002 study by the American SPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center of 250 cases of accidental marijuana ingestion found that only two were fatal — to a cat and a horse. The vast majority of the poisonings, 96 percent, occurred in dogs, with 3 percent in cats and the remaining 1 percent in other species, according to the ASPCA, which also runs a poison hotline.

Veterinarians report that some people give their animals marijuana vapors, tinctures or edibles for pain control, and trade pot biscuit recipes on the Internet and discuss dosage. Green and others discourage such treatment, saying there are more effective, safer drugs available and that there is insufficient research showing that pot helps relieve pet suffering.

Most people who know how their pet got sick are up-front about it, Green said, but sometimes they don’t know. Or they don’t want anyone else to know. She recalls one client who admitted, after her teenage daughter left the room, that it was her own stash.

“We make it clear we’re trying to help the dog and not pointing the finger at anybody,” she said. “The dog might have gotten it from a park or a trash can or from a buddy’s backpack.”

Emergency care
Veterinarians say it’s important to get emergency treatment for dogs that show symptoms of THC toxicity, which usually show up 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion. Treatment may include inducing vomiting, or, if the dog is too woozy, feeding it activated charcoal to absorb what’s in the stomach. In some cases, the dog might need intravenous fluids to help flush out the toxins and an overnight stay for close monitoring of vital signs.

The bill for treatment can vary from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000, depending on the level of care needed.

Green advises being vigilant about what might put pets at risk, particularly during the season when marijuana edibles may be on the holiday menu.

“Be aware that it might not be your animal but someone else’s,” she said. “They will eat anything you leave out.”

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

.

News

Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Community Meals needs cooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Send kids to camp!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Wise words

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Awareness is key to this fight

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Where is this going?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

 
Options for protection come with flu season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

 
Don’t sell city greenbelt

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Paso Fino project is flawed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Archer will get my vote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Mike Keefe cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Building something at schools’ HQ

By Our View | From Page: A10

Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Maybe David can beat Goliath again

By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Sports

DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

 
Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
.

Business

UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Styles on target for November debut

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

MBI hires VP of marketing

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

By Rob White | From Page: A9

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8