‘They stumble around and pee on themselves.’ Pets on pot treated in higher numbers

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joe Marusak/Charlotte Observer) - Pets are being treated in greater numbers for ingesting marijuana, a U.S. veterinary association says.

Calls to a pet poison line about accidental ingestion of pot have risen by about 450 percent over six years, the American Veterinary Medical Association told NBC News.

Dogs make up 90 percent of the cases, though cats can be harmed by second-hand marijuana smoke, Laura Stern, a veterinarian with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, told the network.

"They stumble around and they pee on themselves," a veterinarian in Marin, California, told NBC News.

Pets are unlikely to die from ingesting "brownies" and other forms of marijuana that their owners leave around the house, though marijuana can induce vomiting, blood pressure changes, an abnormal heart rate and dilated pupils, a local veterinarian told The Valley Advocate in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Gobbling up marijuana also can lead to depression, fatigue, dribbling urine and low body temperature in pets, a local veterinarian told WSBT, the CBS-TV affiliate in South Bend, Indiana.

Urgent Vet Pet Clinic, with offices in Belmont, North Carolina, and Fort Mill, South Carolina, sees a couple of such cases a month, veterinarian Jim Dobies told Spectrum News Charlotte.

The clinic will induce vomiting in the pet "and then administer activated charcoal, which helps to bind the toxin and get it out of the system," Dobies told the station.

If you suspect your pet has ingested marijuana, it's best to take it to your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic.

The veterinarian may induce vomiting, which "greatly reduces the potential for toxicity," according to TexVetPets.org, a site with articles and advice by Texas veterinarians.

Avoid trying by yourself to make your dog vomit, because "serious and potentially life-threatening complications such as choking and aspiration can occur," TexVetPets warns.

A veterinarian might recommend hospitalization for up to a day for close monitoring, the organization says.

"Additional treatments that may be administered include intravenous (IV) fluids and oral activated charcoal, which can further help absorb the marijuana in your pet's system," according to TexVetPets. "IV fluids hasten the excretion of the drug in your pet's urine, while activated charcoal binds to the drug within the gastrointestinal tract to further reduce absorption and aid in excretion in subsequent stools."