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More dogs on pot as drug's accessibility increases

More dogs on pot as drug's accessibility increases

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - One veterinarian said Tuesday she expects to see more cases of dogs on pot as the drug becomes more accessible statewide.

Manitou Springs City Council will decide Tuesday night if recreational marijuana can be sold in Manitou Springs. The vote very likely will come down to 6-1 -- six council people in favor of allowing the sale of recreational pot and one person against it.

Northwest Animal Hospital associate veterinarian Dr. Amber Williams expects to see more dogs exposed to marijuana as more recreational pot shops open their doors.

"I don't know that we necessarily have seen more (cases) than we have seen previously, but I think that we will," said Williams.

Owner David Bolser knows first-hand what can happen to a dog exposed to marijuana. His son's 5-year-old lab Layla was exposed to the drug during a trip to Rampart Reservoir. Layla was sniffing around in the woods. When she came back to Bolser, he knew immediately something was wrong.

"All of a sudden the dog is almost completely out control. She is foaming at the mouth, she is staggering," said Bolser.

He rushed the dog to the veterinarian. The vet determined Layla had eaten a bag of marijuana in the woods.

Williams said one of her clients had a similar story. The client was hiking with her dog when it ate marijuana it found on the trail. She said the story serves as example that while dog owners may not have the drug in their homes, their dogs are still at risk of exposure.

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care shows as medical marijuana licenses have increased in Colorado, so have the number of dogs exposed to marijuana.

Pet Poison Helpline said it has expereinced a 200 percent increase in the number of cases of pets that have eaten marijuana during the past five years.

Williams said dogs will become very weak and their pupils will dilate within 30 to 90 minutes of exposure to the drug. She said dogs exposed to marijuana usually do not have any long-term side effects. However, it can impact a dog for several days as the THC in marijuana that is stored in the dog's fat cells is released.

She said there are cases around the nation where dogs have died after exposure to marijuana. She said she does not know of any local cases where exposure has turned lethal.

Bolser said Layla bounced back just fine from her experience on marijuana. However, he said Layla's high time was not a fun time for either of them.

Williams said if you expect your dog has eaten marijuana, take it to the vet immediately.

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