You’ve heard it before, but you’re about to hear it again: If you are around children or animals, hide your weed. Or, in the case of particularly dextrous pets, lock up your weed.
Veterinarians across the country have been reporting an increase in cannabis toxicity in pets, mostly in dogs, since legalization came into force last October.
“Certainly since the legalization of marijuana products, I think every veterinarian has seen just a dramatic spike in marijuana toxicity dogs, for sure,” Cathy Hrinivich, small animal emergency care veterinarian, told CBC News.
And the problem isn’t limited to Canada.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has reported a 756 percent increase in calls related to cannabis toxicity over the last decade, during which many states have legalized the drug for medical and/or recreational use.
Dogs, in particular, seem to be breaking into stashes and sneakily snacking on cannabis-infused edibles at an alarming rate, often when their caregivers accidentally leave them in an accessible place.
Another common habit that causes serious issues in pets is throwing butts, or roaches, on the ground outdoors. They may be biodegradable, but they can also be consumed by dogs who are out on a stroll — because let’s face it, they’re not exactly the most discerning creatures when it comes to eating things off the ground.
“We have people come in, particularly seniors, they’ve walked the same route with their dog for years and years and never had a problem with this before, the dog is sniffing around and gets into something,” Hrinivich told CBC. “And they’re just absolutely flabbergasted, just floored that we are diagnosing marijuana toxicity.”
So what can you do to keep local doggos safe from cannabis toxicity? Hrinivich recommends products such as a “basket muzzle,” which she says are “well-tolerated” by dogs, to prevent sidewalk cannabis consumption.
If that seems extreme, or something your dog would not tolerate, there are a few other options.
Don’t throw butts or roaches on the ground. Carry a doob tube or smell-proof bag and hold onto them until you find a safe, paw-and-snout-proof receptacle in which to dispose of them. You can also chuck ‘em in the compost in some cases, but that’s not always ideal as they can be consumed by local wildlife.
Keep your cannabis in sealed, and possibly even a locked, container. Empty ashtrays immediately after using them, or keep them well out of reach of curious canines.
It’s worth taking the extra steps to protect your dog. Cannabis toxicity in dogs, who have significantly more endocannabinoid receptors than humans, can cause dizziness, incontinence, drooling, seizures, tremors, and even a coma.
And if that doesn’t sway you, look at it this way: Fewer vet bills means more money for weed.
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Written by Emma Spears