ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Regardless of what the movies show us, dogs and marijuana don’t mix.
According to VetMed, the first-week recreational cannabis was made legal in Illinois, the University of Illinois Veterinary Clinic saw two cases of marijuana intoxication in pets.
“Animal poison control hotlines have been reporting exponential increases in the number of calls about pets exposed to marijuana as the drug has been legalized for medical or recreational use in states across the country,” said Dr. Caroline Tonozzi, who heads the clinic’s emergency room.
In dogs, the most common signs of marijuana intoxication include dribbling urine, swaying or general unsteadiness, drooling, and being less alert. Cats will show signs that mimic those of neurologic disease, such as appearing to react to visual stimuli that are not actually present. They may also have dilated pupils.
If a pet has injested marijunana, experts say you should take them to a veterinarian right away.
Pets could exhibit a low heart rate and become so sedated they cannot swallow or stand, or may inhale their own vomit.
“There’s nothing about that actual drug itself that will kill them,” veterinarian Dorrie Black, of the veterinary clinic Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services, according to NPR. “It doesn’t cause any organ failure. It doesn’t cause liver failure [or] renal failure.”
“Pets can go into a coma within a few hours of ingestion. Therefore, it is key to have your pet evaluated soon after ingestion,” Dr. Tonozzi said.
Veterinarians can pump a dog’s stomach or give the pet activated charcoal, which will help remove the marijuana from its system.
It can take up to 24 hours for a dog to return to normal after ingestion.
Does getting your pet high amount to animal cruelty?
According to animal rights attorney Suzana Harman, there’s no law that specifically states that it’s illegal for pet owners to give their pets weed.
“There are different animal cruelty statutes in each state,” Harman told Vice, “so a judge would have to look at the facts of each individual case and see if the manner in which the pet guardian attempted to, or did, get the pet ‘high’ amounted to animal cruelty. This isn’t to say that it won’t one day be specifically outlawed, but it’s such a new area right now, there are no statutes along those lines.”