Uzi the French bulldog is crazy about treats made using hemp. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

More pets getting pot

Maple Ridge dispensary said dog treats are popular

The husky cross was obviously high, and the staff at Dewdney Animal Hospital who treated him on Wednesday found he smelled like pot.

“They have a glassy-eyed look to them – they look stoned, is the best way to put it,” said veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton, who has seen his share of these cases.

An increasing number of pot users are mistakenly poisoning their pets, and it is concerning to veterinarians.

Others are deliberately giving their pets medicinal marijuana products from their local dispensaries, including stores in Maple Ridge, and vets say more research is needed.

With marijuana legalization coming to Canada this summer, vets are renewing calls for users to protect their animals.

Walton said he treats a dog for ingesting marijuana on approximately a monthly basis. In the first three hours, he attempts to induce vomiting, and may even do a stomach pump. After that, the pot will have made its way into the intestines, and other treatments may be necessary if the dog is “severely depressed.”

He has even had to give dogs oxygen to keep them breathing.

“Knock on wood, I’ve never lost a dog to pot,” said Walton.

He said many dogs seek out the pungent weed.

“Dogs absolutely love the taste and smell of pot,” he said. “They will rummage through your clothes and purse to find the pot.”

Walton advises pet owners to keep their stash hidden away from their pets, as they would their children.

“Secure it. These are our fluffy kids, and we need to take care of them, just like we would our real kids.”

He said the butts – roaches – can be a problem for owners of small dogs.

“With a little Pomeranian or Chihuahua it’s enough to make them very ill.”

Far from keeping pot away from their pets, some people are buying hemp products specifically for their canine companions.

The staff at Green Era dispensary in Maple Ridge say the stuff is hard to keep in stock, after some early skepticism by customers.

“The sales really flew once we sampled it out a bit,” said Vic at the dispensary, who did not wish to give his last name. “Owners would rather put something natural into their pet than a pill.”

Uzi, the French Bulldog who pads around the store, goes crazy for the treats as soon as he spots the bag.

The back of the package says they are made with oat flout, apple sauce, hemp hearts and other products.

“It calms him down a lot,” said his owner, who wished to remain anonymous. “He is super hyper.”

She gives him a biscuit or two per day, according to the dosage instructions on the package.

She also has tinctures that can either be put on his food or dropped directly into his mouth. It’s easy to administer because Uzi likes that too. It comes in bacon and seafood flavours, and there is even an apple cinnamon tincture intended for horses.

She does not give the little bulldog any products with THC, except perhaps trace amounts. Rather it is CBD extract, or cannabidiol, that people should be looking for in pet products, she advises.

CBD tinctures offer the medicinal effects of marijuana, without making consumers feel high, claims Vic.

Its uses are still being researched. According to the World Health Organization it has no known adverse health outcomes, but has potential as a treatment for epilepsy. More research is needed, says the WHO.

There is no attempt to get Uzi high, said his owner.

“The ethics around giving THC to dogs is a little fuzzy.”

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, pot is not going to be used in its member clinics anytime soon.

“Further research is recommended to understand the safety and efficacy of marijuana in veterinary medicine,” said a September release on the association website.

“For now, marijuana is not approved for medical use in animals and giving THC products to your pet could put them in a life-threatening medical crisis.”

Signs of excess cannabis exposure in pets include:

Salivation

Sleepiness

Fast or slow heart rate

Depression

Dilated pupils

Bloodshot eyes

Low body temperature

Wobbling, pacing and agitation

Vocalizing

Sound or light sensitivity

Inappropriate urination

Vomiting

 

Dr. Adrian Walton said his veterinary clinic regularly treats dogs who have eaten marijuana. This image is from a summertime treatment of a seven-week old Shih Tzu that had ingested fentanyl, and was successfully saved with naloxone. (Contributed)

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