Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mary Jane

Did You Know?
If you live in Colorado you probably thought of the ski resort from reading the title for this entry. But you would be incorrect. In this post I'm talking about something recreational, but not the mountain climbing or skiing kind of recreation. Here's another clue, I attended a concert at Fiddlers green last night and the smell of this recreational substance was heavy in the air once the sun went down. I got to wondering if the smokers of said recreational substance (aka cannabis, weed, grass, marijuana, pot, and yes, Mary Jane) were animal owners and if they knew what would happen to their animal should "Lucky" accidentally get a hold of their stash or eat a marijuana brownie. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center "Lucky" could get very sick.

Let me tell you why!
You may think it odd or even inappropriate to mention this topic on our blog site. But I tell you the truth that I only write about medical topics that we actually experience in our ER. So, let me clear up some myths and let you know how you can help us help your dog should you experience this type of situation.

First, let me talk about reporting. As a medical institution we are not obligated to report marijuana ingestion by your pet to the local police. Since the symptoms of marijuana toxicity can look like many other types of poisoning it is important to let your veterinarian know if you suspect this type of exposure. It helps us know what type of supportive care we need to provide and can cut down on having to perform multiple tests.

Fortunately the majority of marijuana ingestion cases are not fatal, but the potential is there depending on the size of your dog and the amount of marijuana eaten. The fatality could come from a decreased heart rate, decreased breathing rate, or seizures that are all possible side affects of the marijuana. The onset of symptoms can occur within 30 to 90 minutes of exposure. Symptoms can range from extremely excited and spastic to extremely sedated and comatose. Your animal may also vocalize or bark a lot, stagger or have uncoordinated movement, have hallucinations, or dribble urine. Gastrointestinal signs could include vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth or excessive drooling.

Once we have confirmed exposure, treatment will vary depending on how much time has elapsed since ingestion. Attempting to have the dog vomit is usually the first step but the anti-nausea effects of cannabis can make it difficult to get a dog to vomit if it has been longer than 30 minutes since ingestion. If still alert and breathing well, activated charcoal can be administered to help absorb some of the toxin. Otherwise, supportive care includes IV fluids, temperature control, and body rotation if the animal isn't moving or has slipped into a coma. To the other extreme the drug Diazepam may be needed to decrease excitability so the animal can rest. Animals usually recover completely within 12 - 72 hours of exposure.

The moral of the story...cats and dogs really shouldn't get stoned.

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