New Brunswick

Fredericton vet sees dramatic increase in dogs stoned on marijuana

An increase in the use of medical marijuana in Canada has led to a "steady increase" in the number of dogs getting high and needing treatment for marijuana toxicity, according to a Fredericton veterinarian.

Dr. Dan Cartwright says more medical marijuana use means more dogs being treated for marijuana toxicity

Fredericton veterinarian Dr. Dan Cartwright says he is seeing an increase in the number of dogs needing treatment for marijuana toxicity. (CBC)

An increase in the use of medical marijuana in Canada has led to a "steady increase" in the number of dogs getting high and needing treatment for marijuana toxicity, according to a Fredericton veterinarian.

Dr. Dan Cartwright has seen many dogs and even a few cats presenting with clinical symptoms since he began working as a veterinarian.

"Usually you're going to see a dog that's staggering, kind of lethargic, their reflexes will slow down, they'll become a little bit more hypersensitive to touch and sound and light," Cartwright told Information Morning Fredericton.

They can get it either from eating somebody's stash or a joint or they can also get it from inhaling smoke.- Dr. Dan Cartwright

"They'll have kind of a glassy-eyed appearance and the big tell is a lot of these dogs will start dribbling urine." 

Cartwright said the onset of the symptoms generally comes 30 to 60 minutes after ingesting pot.

"They can get it either from eating somebody's stash or a joint or they can also get it from inhaling smoke … or they can get it from eating edibles, so products that were made with marijuana."

The severity of the symptoms depends on how much of the drug was ingested, how large the dog is and how concentrated the marijuana is.

A veterinarian talks about what your medical marijuana could be doing to your dog. 7:27

"If you've got a two-kilo Yorkie it's not going to take very much, it's going to take one or two crumbs from a cookie to see some clinical signs. But if you're dealing with a 70-pound Lab it's probably going to take a little bit more," said Cartwright.

"A lot of the times with what we're seeing now with the medical marijuana is there's a real difference in concentration... so it's taking less for us to see these clinical signs."

Doped doggies going to be 'a little bit hungrier'

Cartwight says it is very rare for marijuana toxicity to cause death in pets and there are generally no lasting problems.

Fredericton veterinarian Dr. Dan Cartwright warns that pet-owners should treat medical marijuana like any other prescription drug and store it safely out of reach of animals and children. (Valley Veterinary Hospital)
"They're probably going to be a little bit hungrier for the next 12 to 24 hours but no real long-term side effects," he said.

As for treatment, he says it depends on the severity of the toxicity.

"If they come in with mild clinical signs — a little bit of a light body buzz and they're just a little bit wobbly on their legs a lot of those dogs can go home and sleep it off," Cartwright said.

However, dogs with moderate to severe clinical signs including difficulty standing and problems swallowing will need IV treatment in hospital to flush their system.

Cartwright warns pet owners need to treat medical marijuana as they would any other type of medicine.

"It's not just dogs and cats that are getting into this stuff, it's kids so treat it like any other type of prescription medication and just have it in a safe spot where it's not going to fall into the wrong paws," he said.

with files from Information Morning Fredericton

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