Renton, Wash. - When marijuana was legalized, dog owners like Sam Reich never thought people smoking pot would affect her pooch. But that is exactly what veterinarian Dr. Beth Guerra is seeing inside Renton's Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services clinic. "We are seeing quite an uptick with marijuana toxicity with mainly dogs, but occasionally cats," Guerra said. "And I think it is coinciding with the legalization of marijuana in this state." Last year her two clinics alone saw about 35 cases of pets that had gotten into some pot. This year, it is only July and the clinic's already seen more than 35 cases.
Guerra said dogs either find an owner's stash or pick up the remnants of a joint or pot brownie dropped on the sidewalk. Most of the time, she can figure out the problem quickly because the dog can't keep its balance, is either really tired or really hyper, and cannot control its bladder.
The treatment usually costs $200-$300, and includes making the dog throw up and giving it some activated charcoal to soak up the toxins. "But in severe cases we will see dogs that seizure or have severe respiratory depression," Guerra said. "These dogs might need more aggressive supportive care." That treatment could include costly tests and an overnight stay with the vet. In very rare cases the dog could die.
"It would be awful," Reich said. "I mean, it would be awful."