Marijuana poisoning up in pets as cats, dogs encounter cannabis in and out of homes, vets warn

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Monday, May 15, 2023
Vets warn about uptick in marijuana poisoning in pets
Illinois marijuana poisoning cases in pets are up more than 400%. Local vets say dogs especially find discarded pot or edibles on walks and eat them.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Veterinarians are seeing more cases of pets suffering from marijuana poisoning, both inside the house and from things found on the streets.

Cannabis can be toxic for pets, and even deadly in some cases, so owners need to be on alert, whether you use cannabis or not.

The pet poison helpline has seen a 448% increase in marijuana cases over the past six years. Dr. Jordan Beauchamp, director and veterinarian at GoodVets in Roscoe Village, said her clinic is also seeing an uptick in these cases.

"Even in the past week, we've had three different events, where puppy clients have reached out via telemedicine whether they were spending time at the dog park or the grass area near there, and within 30 minutes to an hour they noticed abnormal behavior," she said.

The symptoms of marijuana toxicity can vary depending on the dosage.

"Normal things that don't really bother them like a cabinet shutting or door shutting, vacuum, are very scary for them," Beauchamp said. "They'll be very lethargic and sluggish, but most importantly some can have significant respiratory and cardiac depression, and sometimes even seizure-like activity."

So how are pets getting access to cannabis products? Beauchamp said in some cases owners may accidentally leave their edibles lying around the house.

"I know sometimes when you're partaking, it can be easy to slip your mind, but try to always put it away," she said.

A more common scenario involves pets, especially dogs, finding and eating marijuana products while out on a walk, ranging from leftover edibles in packaging to dried out marijuana blunts.

"Especially this time of year, people are taking their dogs out to parks. That's actually where I'm seeing the biggest increase. The leaves, the buds, the dried out parts of it can be toxic as well," said Beauchamp. "There are levels that can require hospitalization."

Beauchamp said if you notice your pet is eating a cannabis product, try to get it out of their mouth right away and always call poison control or your local vet if you have any concerns.

While most pets can recover quickly from marijuana exposure owners are urged to keep their pot products away from their furry friends.