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Marijuana Legalization Leads to More Pets Getting High

Nov 02, 2016 09:43 AM EDT

Last year, Oregon declared the commercial use of marijuana as  legal. However, there have been recent reports on marijuana use not by people, but by pets, which seem to stumble upon pot and get totally high.

Just this year, there has been a 330 percent increase in the incidents of stoned pets due to "accident" compared with the past five-year record of the Pet Poison Helpline. This was confirmed by Ahna Brutlag, a veterinary toxicologist and the associate director of the animal poison control center in Minnesota. Meanwhile, a veterinary clinic in Portland, DoveLewis, recorded a 63 percent increase in cases related to marijuana ingestion.

Once the animals gobble up pot-infused food, they are expected to experience wobbling, listlessness, vomiting, and even low body temperature. Other signs are dilation of the eyes and loss of their appetite, even in drinking water. It can also trigger agitation, drooling, seizures, and slow or even abnormally fast heartbeat. In severe cases, it can even cause coma.

According to Cheryl K. Smith, executive director of Compassion Center in Oregon, the intake of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) can even be fatal to animals. This is due to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, which is one of the roughly 60 cannabinoids of marijuana, that attacks the central nervous system. Usually, the effect of C. sativa will be visible within less than an hour up to two hours and lasts up to 12 hours after intake.

To deal with the situation, experts are reminding pet owners to be responsible enough in handling their "goods," especially with the widening legalization of marijuana, which includes the commercial sale of not only the loose leaves but also products that use marijuana as an ingredient. With pot-laced products, animals are more prone to accidental ingestion when these sumptuous treats are left unattended.

Aside from keeping the "edibles" out of their reach, clinics have also encouraged pet owners to act immediately once the animals have consumed C. sativa and its by-products. "If your pet has gotten into some marijuana or marijuana-laced products, don’t wait for symptoms to start; treat him or get him to a veterinarian. If your pet has the symptoms of cannabis poisoning and there is a chance he could have ingested marijuana, he needs treatment. Be honest with the veterinarian about what you think is the cause. Vets are not obligated to report such a poisoning, and they need this information to properly treat the animal. It also may save you the expense of further testing," Smith emphasized in her article in Compassion Center.

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