The following is a reprint from Promed which is part of International Society for Infectious Diseases.  With increased accetance of medical marijuana, it is important that owners  understand that  it can have a profoundly different affect on their pets than it does on them.

The popularity of medical marijuana in Colorado has had an unintended

side effect .  Dogs are getting stoned, sometimes with deadly results.

Some people firmly believe that if medical marijuana helps people, it

also helps their pets, but that’s not always the case. Marijuana can

be harmful and sometimes toxic for dogs.   New research shows that with

medical marijuana, the number of dogs getting sick from pot is

spiking.

Animals exposed to marijuana demonstrate neurological signs including

depression or alternating depression and excitement, falling

over/incoordination, hallucinations with barking or agitation,

seizures or coma and death. About a third of exposed animals will

demonstrate gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, dry

mouth, or drooling. The body temperature can be high or low, rapid

breathing with a heart rate that may be too rapid or too slow, dilated

pupils, and they may leak urine. These clinical signs can develop

within minutes up to 3 hours after exposure. The drug may be

eliminated quickly (over several hours), but can be absorbed into fat

making signs last for up to 3-4 days.

“They basically have lost a lot of their fine motor control, they have

a wide-based stance and they are not sure on their feet,” said Dr.

Debbie Van Pelt of VRCC, the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency

Hospital in Englewood. Vets say they used to see dogs high on

marijuana just a few times a year. Now pet owners bring in doped-up

dogs as many as 5 times a week.

“There are huge spikes in the frequency of marijuana ingestion in

places where it’s become legal,” Van Pelt said. Colorado is one of

those places.

This is a serious situation for your animal. It is not funny, it is

actually cruel and can be fatal. If a human chooses to get stoned, or

high or use the product for medicinal value, that is the human being’s

choice. Dogs and cats do not think that way and do not understand what

is happening. Dogs are more often intoxicated or at least more often

brought to the veterinarian.

Most of the time veterinarians say dogs get the medical marijuana by

eating their owners food products that are laced with marijuana that

were left out in the open. More and more dispensaries sell those kinds

of products.

“I just want dogs, kids to be safe. It needs to be treated like any

other drug. If you came home with a prescription of vicodin from your

doctor you wouldn’t just leave it sitting there,” veterinarian Dr.

Stacy Meola said.

Meola is a veterinarian at a Wheat Ridge clinic. She coordinated a

5-year study that shows the number of dogs sickened by marijuana has

quadrupled in Colorado since medical marijuana was legalized. Most

dogs survive, but not all.

“Two dogs, however, got into baked goods with medical grade marijuana

butter in it, which presumably seems to be more toxic to the dogs, so

we did have 2 deaths,” Meola said.

That’s the exception. Most of the time the dogs will end up showing

signs such as staggering, acting lethargic, vomiting, and being overly

sensitive to sound and light. Sometimes they fall into a coma. It’s

the doggie equivalent of a “bad trip.” After treatment most are back

to normal within 24 hours.

While many dog owners think it’s funny to get their dogs stoned and

have posted videos of their stoned dogs, Colorado veterinarians say

there’s nothing funny about dogs on dope.

  This is a serious situation for your animal. It is not funny, it is

actually cruel and can be fatal. If a human chooses to get stoned, or

high or use the product for medicinal value, that is the human being’s

choice. Dogs and cats do not think that way and do not understand what

is happening. Dogs are more often intoxicated or at least more often

brought to the veterinarian.

“We need people to realize it is potentially toxic and potentially

fatal to their pets,” Van Pelt said.

Veterinarians say frequently when the sick dogs come in, their owners

are reluctant to admit medical marijuana might have been the cause.

They say if that’s a possible factor, tell the vet right away and they

can more quickly treat the dog.

It is important to get your pet treated as the clinical signs can be

Life-threatening and pets can and die from this substance.