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Watch Out for Unintended Pot Ingestion

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An article in the LA Times last week tells the sad tale of Monte, a year-old Havanese. The owners came home to see the dog in an extreme condition – they thought it had had a stroke because it couldn’t walk properly and seemed mentally impaired.

A trip to the vet emergency revealed the real cause – marijuana poisoning. The dog had ingested enough pot to cause the symptoms. Thankfully, the dog recovered completely. According to the Times, marijuana ingestion isn’t uncommon in states where marijuana has been decriminalized.

“A five-year study found that such poisoning of dogs quadrupled in Colorado after voters there legalized medical weed in 2000. The Oregonian in April reported cases in the Pacific Northwest were on the rise. And veterinarians here say they frequently see ingestion cases.”

In LA, veterinary clinics are also seeing a lot of dogs who have eaten marijuana. “Bruce Castillo, an emergency veterinarian technician at an Eagle Rock clinic, said he usually treats two or three stoned dogs a night. “

While there is no particular treatment, other than observation and time, it isn’t clear that stoned dogs are in a safe situation. They might fall down stairs and get injured or become confused and wander into the street. There were no deaths reported because of marijuana intoxication, and many owners take it with humor, rather than concern.

A larger question is then, “If dogs are accessing the drug to eat it, who else might be?” Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have a good answer either. Children are the biggest worry; especially since the toxic effects of marijuana on brain development in kids is known. A single dose has never been documented as causing any harm to a child however.

The bottom line seems to be that people growing or using marijuana – legal or not – need to keep a tighter control on it.

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