Take care with pot, chocolate around pets

I read the story on “Pot Etiquette.” (Herald, Jan. 28) As a concerned local veterinarian, I would like to offer some suggestions to pet owners.

Since the legalization of marijuana use, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of pets accidentally consuming “edibles,” or marijuana-laced food products (such as cookies) that were shown in the Herald’s photograph. This has caused acute poisoning in these dogs.

The usual presentation is that the owner comes home and finds the dog unconscious and unresponsive, unable to get up or even rouse from a coma-like state. Sometimes, a lighter dose shows a dog that is confused and uncoordinated, staggering around looking lost. We have hospitalized these comatose animals, and all have survived so far with supportive care.

Marijuana edibles are not harmless, and cause severe and dangerous nervous system depression in these animals. Please, as a responsible pet owner, keep all “edibles” and other drugs safely out of the reach of pets!

As we approach Valentine’s Day, I also wanted to mention that chocolate toxicity in dogs is not a myth. Chocolate contains theobromine, a central nervous system stimulant that the dog’s liver cannot process and detoxify. Symptoms of chocolate intoxication include vomiting, nervousness and confusion, hyper-irritability, tremors, shaking, seizures, respiratory arrest and death.

The problem is dose-related and often is much worse in smaller dogs. We had one tiny puppy almost die from consuming a single Oreo cookie. So please, do not give your dogs any Valentine chocolates, and please put the candy where they can’t get to it.

On a personal note, I was distressed to see drug-laced candy pictured on the front page of the newspaper. I would have been much more comfortable if this subject was discussed and pictured somewhere besides the front page, where children are exposed to it.

It certainly appears that the Herald is promoting and sanctioning recreational drug use. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

I am disappointed that the Herald would be so lacking in maturity and common sense in its approach to the topic.

Claire S. Lodahl, DVM


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