Local veterinarian sees rise in dogs consuming THC - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Local veterinarian sees rise in dogs consuming THC

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Now that recreational marijuana use is legal in California, a local veterinarian says he's seen a spike in the number of dogs who've consumed THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Ofer Cherbinsky, DVM at Atascadero Pet Hospital Emergency Center, says he sees about 10 dogs a month that he treats for THC consumption. 

"I can say that I can see more THC toxicity than we use to see in the past," Cherbinsky said. 

He says the dogs he sees are coming across marijuana in all forms. 

"Either cooked, baked, eating the nubs, getting into the stash, and some of them are worse than they were in the past," Cherbinsky said. 

While he says it's easy for him to spot if a dog is under the influence of the drug, testing for it can be problematic. According to Cherbinsky, compared to a human, it's difficult to determine the toxicity level in a dog's urine. 

"The other thing is, we don't know if dogs are metabolizing THC the same as humans. We're not sure that the drug test all together is accurate, so the way we approach it if it's a positive test, we call it positive," Cherbinsky said. "If it's a negative test, we still leave the benefit of the doubt that it might be toxicity and we mainly diagnose on the owner's statement that they know they got into THC."

Cherbinsky says the symptoms are very distinct. 

"Most of them are dribbling some urine," Cherbinsky said. "If they are severely affected, they will collapse, they'll go into coma or seizures and they don't control their temperature very well. Their heart rate can go down and they can die."

It isn't common for the consumption to be lethal, but depending on the size of the dog and how much it ate, it's a possibility. 

Proper disposal of the marijuana or products that contain marijuana seem to be the problem, Cherbinsky says. 

"It has to be put in the garbage and the garbage cannot be accessed by the dog," Cherbinsky said. "We had a case of a dog that got into remnants of THC that people threw into the compost pile, so even that is not recommended."

If a dog has consumed marijuana and isn't showing symptoms, Cherbinsky says to try and make the dog vomit, but only if the dog is not in a lethargic, altered state. 

If a dog is brought into a vet several times with the same symptoms, the vet can report the owner because it can be considered animal abuse. However, the first time it happens, Cherbinsky encourages owners to be honest about the dog's consumption to make the right decisions in treatment as soon as possible. 

"It's very important for people to actually be up front and tell us that the animals get into any drug because it makes our treatment much easier," Cherbinsky said. 

For more information on how to protect your pet from marijuana consumption, visit ASPCA.com.

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