Small Town News


Don't smoke screen veterinarian on drugs

Cottonwood Journal Extra of Cottonwood, Arizona

- Advertisement -

Paws Around Town

With legislation allowing medical use of marijuana, it's time to address some of the implications to our pets. I am not here to condemn or condone, only to acknowledge that medical cannabis is appearing in homes more openly and casually than ever before and to stand ground for the protection of our pets.

The veterinary community is evolving a heated debate about the beneficial use of cannabis for pets vs. the toxicity of THC. The current consensus in its early stages is that while there may be some medical benefit to marijuana, there is enough toxicity in THC, the mind-altering substance in cannabis, to cause legitimate concern. Veterinarians are beginning to see dogs and cats brought in with signs of THC toxicity after ingesting large amounts of dried marijuana plants but more significantly from even small amounts of the currently popular ingestible forms, such as cookies, brownies, candies, oils and butters that contain high concentrations of THC combined with already dangerous chocolate, sugars and fats.

Remember that if you leave a marijuana cookie or brownie out, your pet is going to eat it. So many stories I've read are about pets rooting through a purse and finding a cannabis-laden cookie or chocolate bar. If that happens, you need to get to the veterinarian and fess up immediately. You don't want your vet to waste time figuring out what could be wrong when you know.

Most pets won't eat toxic levels of dried plants, but it's not unheard of. Deliberate exposure of pets to marijuana is also not unheard of. Don't do it. Pets may look like they're having fun but they are not. Animals do not enjoy feeling disoriented and uncoordinated in any way and THC can make them anxious and uncertain even in small amounts and they certainly should not be breathing in any smoke.

Some companies are developing marijuana-based supplements for managing dog pain and anxiety, with all the THC removed, but the jury is still out and the bottom line here is that there is not enough research or evidence either direction to warrant taking a chance and letting your pets get hold of any form of cannabis. Like all medications, all forms of medical marijuana need to be kept safely away from children and pets.

An equally urgent issue to address is the popularity of electronic cigarettes. While there is a lot of debate about their safety for people, there is no debate concerning pets. The nicotine in electronic cigarettes is toxic to dogs and cats. Keep e-cigarettes away from your pets; all pets, dogs, cats, horses, goats, birds, reptiles and rodents.

According to the Pet Poison Hotline, veterinarians are seeing a sharp rise in calls about pets "that have ingested e-cigarettes or the liquid nicotine refill solution." In six months, cases "more than doubled, indicating that along with their increased popularity, the nicotine-delivering devices are becoming a more significant threat to pets.

"Symptoms for dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, elevations in heart rate and respiration rate, depression, tremors, ataxia, weakness, seizures, cyanosis, coma and cardiac arrest."

These symptoms come on rapidly — within 15 minutes to an hour. A single e-cigarette ingested by a 50- to 60-pound dog is a medical emergency. The same amount in a smaller dog is even more toxic and urgent.

Repeated exposure to e-cigarette vapor can lead to Heinz Body Anemia, where the red blood cells become damaged. Cats are particularly susceptible to this syndrome and can ingest propylene glycol from the vapor by licking or chewing on the device.

Small amounts of onions or leeks, or excessive quantities of garlic can also cause Heinz Body Anemia.

Just a few reminders on some of the things on the pet poison hotline. What not to feed our dogs and cats:

Onions or leeks, large amounts of garlic, macadamia nuts, avocado, chocolate, sugar or candy, raisins or grapes, rhubarb, alcohol, human aspirin, caffeine, Tylenol or anything with ibuprofen, or any human medication not cleared by your veterinarian, artificial sweeteners, anything containing Zylatol, which is often found in low-calorie drinks, sports drinks, power bars and toothpaste. Zylatol is a perfectly viable sweetener for humans but is highly toxic to dogs and cats.

I hope this helps keep all our pets safe and protected in this changing world.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Nadia Caillou, an animal care specialist and co-owner of a pet store in Sedona. She is the founder of Golden Bone Rescue and Rehab and has over 30 years experience helping distressed animals and helping pet owners, shelters and pounds overcome problem behavior in animals.

Copyright 2015 Cottonwood Journal Extra, Cottonwood, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: February 11, 2015

More from Cottonwood Journal Extra