Since the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in select states across America, the growing industry of distributing cannabis for medical and recreational use promises to stimulate economy, but not without its fair share of controversy and challenges.
One unforeseen challenge arising from this laissez faire attitude towards cannabis is a massive increase in the number of dogs being treated for ingesting large amounts of pot.
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The Canine Cannabis Conundrum
In Arizona, where medicinal marijuana has recently been legalized, veterinarians are reporting a year over year doubling in the amount of dogs requiring treatment for exposure to pot. Luckily, natural cannabis is generally non-fatal, resulting in your dog feeling sick for a day or two, but without any major lasting effects. Synthetic cannabinoids, however, are trickier. “Because they're often manufactured overseas, we have seen some dogs with serious illness related to ingesting the synthetic marijuana,” said Billy Griswold, director of medical management for the Emergency Animal Clinic in Phoenix.
The Side Effects
Symptoms of marijuana exposure include:
As far as treatment for exposure is concerned, it is mainly a matter of dealing with the symptoms on a case by case basis and keeping the patient comfortable, as there is no outright antidote to marijuana.
So, while the recent movement across America to decriminalize, or even legalize, marijuana has many people excited, we cannot lose sight of certain sobering aspects of cannabis, one of them being the strong, and often harmful, effect it has on our pets. Just because it has been made vastly more acceptable for people to imbibe, it is still by and large an emphatic no-go when it comes to our feline and canine compadres.
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If you live in an area where marijuana is available, in either a medicinal or recreational capacity, and you choose to use, make sure you treat it like you would any other medication or libation, in that you keep it out of your paw's reach. When not in use, put your stash in a cabinet or drawer, and try to keep any smoke away from your pets, as even minimal exposure can result in your pet becoming intoxicated.
If you suspect your pet has gotten a hold of your marijuana, tell your vet.
"To be perfectly honest, we really don't care what [pet parents] do on their free time," says Griswold. "We just try and impress upon folks that in the long run it's better for the pet and usually for your wallet to just own up to it so we can figure out what it is and react in the most specific way possible."
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