COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Some Colorado Springs-area veterinarians report an increase in treating dogs that have ingested snacks containing medical marijuana.
It's unclear whether dogs are eating the snacks accidentally or are being fed the treats intentionally. Either way, the marijuana is not good for a dog's health.
"Marijuana is rapidly absorbed into a dog's system," said Dr. Lisa Gerleman of Polo Springs Hospital. "Dogs can become uncoordinated, have a low body temperature and have low blood pressure. They actually can go into a coma if they ingest enough."
Gerleman said treatment requires inducing vomiting to remove the drug from a dog's system, and monitoring the dog's symptoms for as long as three days until the animal improves. She also said dog owners who aren't forthcoming about marijuana ingestion, complicate treatment.
"It could be so many other things," she said. "We could be confused as to what's wrong with a pet, so it wouldn't be that we'd automatically recognize the signs of marijuana ingestion."
Gerleman said despite the latest trend of more marijuana in dogs, the phenomenon probably isn't as common as alcohol ingestion or ingestion of prescription and over-the-counter drugs in dogs.
Local dog owners expressed mixed reaction to the news.
"I guess on one hand, it's not that surprising," said Craig Waltz. "I know people who give their dogs chocolate and other things that aren't good for them. And we do have a lot of medical marijuana around."
"It makes me wonder what owners are doing with their pets," said Julie Warren. "I find it a bit shocking."
Part of the problem could be that what looks and tastes good to a human, will be the same to a dog. Responsible dog owners should be familiar with what kinds of food and liquids are safe or unsafe for consumption.
Experts say a dog should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately if ingestion of any dangerous substance is suspected, and the vet should be informed up front if the owner knows what substance is involved.