I’ve only recently become a dog-person. I fell in dog-love with Roscoe, the Jack Russell terrier, a couple of years ago, and since then I can’t imagine living my life without him. When my wife takes him out of town, I miss him more than her (only because I can call, email, and text her – I’m not a cad!)
He sits in a chair beside me as I type up news stories for the Stash. Around 10am he makes me take him outside to pee, forcing me to disconnect from The Borg for a while, probably keeping me somewhat more physically and mentally healthy. Around 1pm, we walk to the park with The Ball* and have our Noontime Dog Fun event. Around 5pm he needs to go out again and forces me to take another break, otherwise I could literally be in front of the computer from 6am-8pm straight (and have done so many times… not healthy!)
So I was amused when a Stasher sent me a link to DogNews.com’s magazine, Volume 25, Issue 17, dated April 24, 2009, page 58, and an article by Shaun Coen called “Off the Leash: Marijuana and Dogs”:
But should the effort to legalize marijuana ever see the light of day, what would be the effect on our canine companions? We know that second hand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as breathing problems, salivation, diarrhea, vomiting and cardiac abnormalities. What would happen to man’s best friends should they be exposed to not only tobacco smoke, but marijuana smoke as well?
Uh, since tobacco smoke causes cancer and lung disease in humans and marijuana smoke does not, I’d suppose that marijuana smoke doesn’t seriously hurt dogs, either.
And what if our curious canine friends decided to eat a stash of hash?
Then we put him in his timeout box and sternly say, “Bad dog!”
The signs of a dog that has inhaled or ingested marijuana may include incoordination and listlessness along with dilated pupils, slow heart rate, and sometimes urinary incontinence.
…and riding around in a van with four teenagers trying to solve mysteries for Scooby snacks.
During a study done in 2002, 250 cases of marijuana ingestion were reported to the ASPCA, resulting in two deaths. It’s harder to know what the mental damage may be to dogs under the influence of marijuana but it’s believed that they will become fearful and scared because they don’t know what’s happening…
Oh, I love it when people play sloppy with the studies. There was, indeed, a 2002 peer-reviewed paper entitled “Marijuana exposure in animals” by Caroline W. Donaldson, DVM. It does confirm that a dog should not eat cannabis:
According to the ASPCA APCC Database, the most common side effects of marijuana toxicosis are depression, ataxia, and bradycardia. Other signs include agitation, vocalization, vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, tachycardia, hypothermia, mydriasis, urinary incontinence, seizures, and coma.
But also notes:
An LD50 (the amount for a dose that will kill half of those who take it) has not been established in dogs or cats. Research in dogs and monkeys showed that oral doses of delta 9-THC and delta 8-THC ranging from 3,000 to 9,000 mg/kg were not lethal, and all dogs recovered within 24 hours of ingestion.
3-9g/kg means a dog like Roscoe, who weighs 10kg, eating one to three ounces — of oral THC at 100% potency, like Marinol pills, not one to three ounces of new-and-improved 10% THC “super-pot”. And the kicker:
Out of more than 250 cases of accidental marijuana ingestion reported to the ASPCA APCC, two deaths were reported. In one cat, exposure to multiple agents was possible, and the results of a gross necropsy revealed that the animal probably died of complications of cardiomyopathy. The second death reported was a horse with signs attributed to colic, but a gross necropsy was not done. The prognosis is favorable for symptomatic animals with no secondary complications, such as aspiration pneumonia. With supportive care, these animals usually recover within 72 hours.
So the “two deaths” the author refers to, implying they are deaths of dogs from cannabis ingestion, are actually a cat and a horse with other serious health problems. Is this guy auditioning for a job at the (Non-Alcoholic, Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Tobacco) Drug Free America Foundation?
In the same study, the author reports that no veterinarians surveyed had ever filed an animal abuse complaint when someone brings in a stoned dog. She also notes that veterinarians often have trouble getting the owners to tell them their dog had eaten cannabis, since possession of it is a crime. If the vet doesn’t know the true cause, she may proceed as if the dog had ingested a serious toxin, like antifreeze, and the treatment for that may cause more harm to the dog than the cannabis did!
Bottom line: Pot’s not good for your dog, but it’s not going to seriously hurt him. Personal note: I think people who purposefully get their pets high for amusement sake are being cruel. Owning a Jack Russell is a high; they’re like Red Bull with fur. Pets are great the way they are; no need to alter them (aside from the whole spay/neuter part).
* I’m serious about The Ball. This is a green plastic ball with orange-wedge-like grooves studded with soft nubs and a half-inch diameter hole through the center through which a rope was once attached. The rope, of course, becomes Jack Russell floss in a matter of minutes, but The Ball is what he really wants, anyway. He can get a good grip in the wedges and the nubs work to massage his teeth and gums. He fricken LOVES The Ball (even more than The Kong… that’s another story). So much that this is actually The Ball V, as The Balls I, II, III, and IV have all been lost and he steadfastly refuses to get excited about any other spheroid of any size, shape, material, or configuration. The Ball costs $15, and I’ve only been able to find them at one particular Petco that’s way out of my neighborhood.