my dog ate weed and is shaking

Dog eats marijuana, develops ‘scary’ symptoms

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A Normal Heights dog owner is warning about a hidden danger at dog parks.

Bosco, a 2-year-old bullypit, loves his treats and just about anything else his mouth can reach.

“He’s a vacuum. He’s eaten some weird stuff,” said Mark Groveman.

On Friday morning, the list of stuff got longer sometime during a 40-minute period. During that time, Groveman walked Bosco to the off-leash area at Ward Canyon Park and let him play. Eventually they walked home. Groveman put him in the house, left for work and returned home five hours later.

“He was laying on the bed, scared and shivering. He had wet the bed a couple times. He was arching his back in a weird way, swaying side to side. I thought he was having a stroke,” said Groveman.

Groveman decided to rush Bosco to the emergency vet.

“In the car, he was bobbing his head forward. He kept nodding off. Honestly I thought he was going to die. A lot of panic and some praying as well,” said Groveman.

At the vet, Bosco got a quick diagnosis.

“They said they are seeing it every day,” said Groveman.

Bosco likely ingested marijuana, which tests later confirmed. Experts say in some cases, eating marijuana for dogs can lead to seizures and in rare cases, death. Edibles and tinctures – with higher THC concentrations – are most concerning. According to the ASPCA, since the legalization of marijuana in California, dog toxicity cases have jumped 130%.

In the case of Bosco, a slow heartbeat was initially a concern, but he was fortunately was back to his normal self 24 hours later.

“He has to run around and play, but I’m going to be a bit more aware,” said Groveman.

A Normal Heights dog owner is warning about a hidden danger at dog parks.

What does marijuana do to your dog?

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Signs of toxicity

A study authored by Dr. Stacy Meolo of Wheatridge Veterinary Specialists in Denver and published in “JVECC” analyzed 125 cases of marijuana toxicity seen at Wheatridge and Colorado State University between 2005-2010. Of those cases.
• 95 percent survived
• 88 percent showed ataxia, or stumbling and struggle with muscle coordination
• 53 percent showed a changing mental state
• 48 percent showed mydriasis, or dilated pupils
• 47 percent experienced urinary incontinence
• 47 percent experienced hyperesthesia, or heightened sensitivity
• 30 percent had tremors or twitching
• 27 percent vomited
• 21 percent ingested chocolate at the same time.

Using marijuana recreationally is legal in Colorado, but leaving your edibles on the counter could have serious consequences for dogs and cats with the munchies.

Colorado veterinarians have seen a steady rise in marijuana toxicity cases during the past several years, as the recreational and medicinally-used drug has become more readily available.

It looks about how you might think — a dog stumbling around dazed and confused, increasingly sleepy and, for lack of a better word, “dopey,” according to CSU veterinarian and associate professor Timothy Hackett.

More severe symptoms include vomiting, tremors and urinary incontinence.

“They look stoned, to be quite honest,” said Christie Long, an associate veterinarian at VCA Fort Collins Animal Hospital and Coloradoan columnist. “Most people who smoke or eat pot know what their threshold is. Animals don’t, and dogs think cookies are great anyway. If you leave a marijuana cookie out, they’re going to eat it.”

In most cases, the drug’s effects alone are relatively harmless. But when coupled with chocolate, butter, oil or the various other THC products available, Hackett worries about the combined effects of intoxication and the gastrointestinal issues that “people food” can give pets.

“If you give a dog a stick of butter or a bowl of cooking oil — marijuana or not — it’s going to get sick,” he said. “If you called me up and said your dog ate a whole tray of regular brownies, I’d be concerned enough to tell you to bring him in and induce vomiting. It’s nothing against marijuana. The way people buy medical marijuana is what’s really toxic because those items are already pretty toxic to a dog.”

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society analyzed 125 cases of marijuana toxicity at Wheatridge Veterinary Specialists in Denver and Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital between 2005 and 2010. The study found that marijuana toxicity cases quadrupled during the course of six years, with a strong correlation between a growing amount of registered medical marijuana users and the number of toxicity cases seen in pets.

Only two animals included in the study died from the effects of toxicity (both at Wheatridge). Each died after eating marijuana baked goods and choking on their own vomit.

“If the dog ate one cookie or something like that, I’m not worried,” Hackett said. “I’m worried about you turning your back and a shoebox full of pot brownies being gone.”

Ashley Harmon, a veterinarian at Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency and Rehabilitation, 816 S. Lemay Ave., said she’s seen marijuana toxicity “since the day I started my practice.” With pot’s recent recreational legalization, Harmon has started to see even more cases as the stigma surrounding the drug lessens and owners are more willing to bring in their animals for treatment.

In October 2013, just months before the drug became legal for recreational use in Colorado, the emergency hospital saw only three confirmed toxicities. In March 2013, the same hospital saw 13 confirmed toxicities. On any given night shift, Harmon expects to see at least one case of toxicity, which is confirmed through “obvious evidence” or a urine test.

Only one case has involved an owner intentionally giving the drug to a pet, she said. Most cases are a result of owner oversight in not putting away loose marijuana or edibles—something she rarely sees happen with antifreeze, chocolate, grapes or other known pet toxins.

She’s seen two animals, both small or mid-size dogs, who ate baked goods, die with confirmed marijuana toxicity. One dog had eaten an entire pound of THC-laced brownies. The other had eaten one pound of THC-infused butter. Both deaths would have been prevented if the edibles had been properly stored.

“People know that it’s used for medicinal purposes, can be good for some people and is recreational, so they think it’s not a big deal for their pets,” she said. “People don’t leave antifreeze or chocolate on their coffee table, but, unfortunately, there’s not that same caution with marijuana.”

The bottom line? It’s better to be safe than sorry, Hackett said. Pack up the edibles and store them in a safe location — and call if your dog starts showing symptoms of marijuana toxicity.

Many symptoms correlate closely with antifreeze poisoning — a fatal ingestion if not treated right away. If you’re not sure what your dog got into, it’s always better to bring it in, he said.

“I’ve seen many stoned dogs and most of them do just fine,” Hackett said. “Honestly, most of the marijuana toxicity cases that come in to see us would probably be just fine if they didn’t . but when they first present, we need to know what the dog got into and whether it could have been antifreeze or marijuana. One is absolutely life-threatening and the other usually isn’t unless there are intestinal signs.”

Using marijuana recreationally is legal in Colorado, but leaving your edibles on the counter could have serious consequences for dogs and cats with the munchies.