Doobie distinction: B.C. has most weed-related pet claims

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For the second year in a row, B.C. has earned the doob-iest distinction of being the province with the most stoned dogs.

Pet insurance firm Trupanion says our province once again has the most confirmed cases marijuana toxicity poisoning in pets over the past year.

In fact, in the first two months of 2015 alone, Trupanion received twice as many claims as all of 2013.

The agency is using the unofficial marijuana holiday of 4/20 to remind pet owners not to let their dogs get high, or as one clever person put it, “let their dogs channel their inner Snoop Dogg.”

Unsurprisingly, the insurance agency routinely sees a spike of weed-related pet claims around April 20.

The B.C. SPCA says it sees around 10 to 20 cases each year, where pet owners are purposefully giving their dogs weed, or leaving drugs out where their pet can get into the stash.

“Each year we definitely receive cases where pets have been exposed to drugs and have instances where we have seized animals from these types of situations,” said Marcie Moriarty, Chief Prevention and Enforcement Officer.

As for the reason why dogs get sick from marijuana, it’s actually the THC that can be toxic, although effects vary depend on the strain.

“Dogs can show symptoms of marijuana toxicity within a few minutes of inhaling smoke or a couple hours after ingesting marijuana, and most toxicity cases occur after ingestion,” veterinarian Dr. Denise Petryk told Vancity Buzz.

Petryk says an affected dog may have the appearance of someone who is drunk: swaying on their paws and a loss of coordination. Canines can also experience lethargy, vomiting, disorientation, depression and sometimes seizures.

The good news is that if your dog has just ingested a small amount of marijuana – specifically leaves or a portion of a joint – it’s unlikely that it’s life-threatening, and it will likely pass.

The problem is much larger, however, if your pup has gotten into edibles or marijuana butter, which has a much stronger concentration of THC and is more easily absorbed.

“Symptoms will start faster and as opposed to being dully, sleepy, depressed and off-balance, the dog can quickly become hyper excitable, agitated, loud and vocal. The heart rate can race, the eyes can start going back and forth like windshield wipers, the body can become overheated and the dog can even move quickly into a life-threatening coma,” Dr. Petryk said.

If your dog has eaten weed, Trupanion advises getting them to the vet ASAP, where they may induce vomiting or use activated charcoal to detoxify the body. They may also recommend IV support and anti-tremor medications in extreme cases.

“Most pets are nearly normal within 24 to 48 hours.  Sometimes it can take a day or two to have your pet’s balance return completely to normal,” Petryk said.

While some pet owners may be embarrassed or nervous to talk to their vet, Petryk says being open and honest will result in the best treatment – and prognosis.

Trupanion has paid out more than $24,000 for weed-related pet claims across the US and Canada since 2011.

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Darcy Matheson is the founder of PetFundr, a crowdfunding site for animal welfare projects. Her first book, "Greening Your Pet Care," is available on Amazon and in major book and pet stores.
@darcynews

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