Why you should never, ever let your pet do drugs

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Friends don’t let pets do drugs

As far back as high school, I can remember people who had no qualms about shotgunning a joint into their pet’s face. And even back in my naïve youth, dosing dogs and cats with weed seemed like nothing more than a complete prick move.

Can we just call this animal abuse and get it over with?

Unfortunately, any attempts to stop ignorant stoners from mixing pets and pot were just met with denials and resentment. “Dude, they totally love getting high,” one particularly dismal partygoer told me.

As it turns out, it’s not just something that goes on in shadowy basement ragers and teenage keggers. A quick search of YouTube shows that the “pets high on weed” genre — which apparently includes cats, dogs, ferrets and birds — is wildly popular. It’s also wildly unfunny. Most of the pooches in the videos are utterly depressing.

And rightfully so, because it turns out it’s not exactly healthy to get your pet high.

Meg Scuderi, a doctor of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, says she’s treated several cases of animals — mostly dogs — that have ingested marijuana. Not shockingly, the results are usually ugly.

“They are disoriented and ataxic, so they look like they’re stumbling,” she says. “They have dilated pupils and they may be vomiting. Their heart rate will be low and there will be tremors and dribbling urine. For treatment, if they’re coherent we’ll induce vomiting and put them on fluids overnight to wash the THC out of their system.”

It’s a problem that some officials say is getting worse.

In U.S. states where marijuana is either more accepted or can now be purchased legally, vets at emergency animal clinics are reporting an increase of pets being brought in who have accidentally eaten their owner’s stash. True, if your pet accidentally ingests it, you might not necessarily be a horrible douchebag like those morons at the parties I attended years ago. But you might want to think about storing your weed in the same way you’d hide your prescription drugs or the bleach-filled cleaning supplies that are normally kept under the sink.

There are also a whole other slew of problems associated with pets eating pot, says Scuderi.

“Generally they’ve ingested a joint or some marijuana in a rolled form, but every now and then we get a dog who has eaten marijuana brownies, which is a whole other problem because chocolate is also toxic to dogs. You never know what’s in pot as well, so if it’s laced with something, that could be fairly problematic.

“Plus, it’s fairly expensive to get treatment for your dog for this sort of thing.”

But despite all the reasons not to share your dope with your dog or cat, there are reports of some vets who are prescribing medical marijuana for Fido or Fritz, believing it to be a treatment in the same way pot can alleviate some symptoms of illness in humans.

Doug Kramer, a Los Angeles-based veterinarian, is one of the few pet doctors willing to go on record to espouse the effects of weed on animals. When Kramer’s dog, Nikita, was diagnosed with cancer the vet began treating her with marijuana. He noted that it improved her appetite and temperament. While not a cure, said Kramer, it did improve her quality of life.

“I can’t imagine this would be something that’s very pleasant for animals.”

But before you start adding the sweet leaf to your pet’s diet, consider that there’s little if any research done in the field. True, cannabis is very rarely lethal for animals. But it’s also an issue of your pet’s consent — because it obviously can’t.

“It’s not hugely concerning from a medical standpoint. But the pets are agitated and they don’t understand what is going on,” says Scuderi.

“I can’t imagine this would be something that’s very pleasant for animals.”

– Originally published in Planet S Magazine, with much love ‘n’ respect.