Pet videos are always adorable. There are lots of them on YouTube and 9gag, but recently, a different breed of pet videos is circulating on the Internet. It often involves a cat or a dog that’s wobbling on its paws, having trouble blinking, and simply gazing into nothingness. There’s also laughter from the pet owner, fascinated enough to videotape his pet getting stoned.
But while this scenario may seem novel at first, the sad reality is that it is becoming increasingly common, especially over the past 12 months. And not all pets survive from the ordeal.
“What’s worrying to us is the severity of cases now,” said Dr. Heidi Houchen, a veterinarian at Northwest Veterinary Specialists in Oregon, in an interview with NPR. “We still see the classic case: red eyes, wobbly, urinating on themselves, a little twitchy; but they can progress through the sedate, leaning, urine-dribbling stage to becoming completely comatose or absolutely rigid. They’ve come in and had seizures. They can come in a panic, really sensitive to noise and touch. They can pass away.”
But aside from the severity of the condition, the number of cases has grown at an alarming rate as well. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, there was a fourfold increase in calls concerning pets intoxicated with weed over the last three years, with the most dramatic increase seen in the last 12 months. Similarly, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals poison control centers have seen a similar increase, receiving more than 500 calls for accidental cannabis ingestion for pets compared to just 320 in 2013.
One of the biggest problems is the accessibility of marijuana these days. “If a brownie is sitting on the coffee table, that dog is going to eat it whether it has marijuana or not,” said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, senior veterinary toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline. “It’s not just going to ea one brownie; it’ll eat the whole pan. The dose of what a dog would ingest relative to a human would be much greater.”
Furthermore, pets metabolize drugs differently. Hence, they are more susceptible to marijuana intoxication compared to humans. According to Dr. Stacy Meola from Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Colorado, two dogs died from weed overdose in 2012. However, the occurrence is still considered rare, as the dogs also had other confounding factors contributing to its death. Other causes of pet intoxication, such as rat poison, insecticide, and over-the-counter medications also pose a bigger threat than pot.
Still, Houchen is asking pet owners to keep the stuff away from their pets, as it can become dangerous. “Once you bring marijuana into the house and it’s available, it should be kept up and away from pets just as the kids. If you want to use it, you have a medical license or whatever reason, great, but now do due diligence,” she reiterated.
How can pet owners stop their pets from eating marijuana edibles? Voice your opinions in the comments section below – your opinion matters to the nation.