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Leave It! Dogs Ingesting Edibles on Walks Is a Growing Problem

Baxter just can't seem to say off the grass, can he?

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It’s a well-known fact that dogs love weed. Just ask anyone who’s left a joint or a bit of flower on the table by accident. It’s unfortunate that weed doesn’t always love them, and in fact can be quite toxic if your furbaby got into your stash.

This includes edibles now, too. With more recreational cannabis shops popping up around the country, most selling tantalizing cookies, brownies, and other THC and CBD-laced sweets, dogs are finding their way to the treats. And it’s not just because their owners are absentmindedly leaving them on the counter. It’s increasingly becoming a problem on your neighborhood walk, says to the Los Angeles Times.

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Saying “Leave it!” doesn’t always work

Why people are throwing edibles on the ground is a problem to discuss on another day. But it’s clear that dogs are finding their way to them one way or another. 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports an uptick in calls to the poison hotline about pooches with marijuana toxicity. In California, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, calls grew by 276% within a four-year window; in Colorado, numbers have risen 11-fold since weed became legal in 2012. 

According to Tina Wismer, a veterinarian and senior director for the New York-based ASPCA Poison Control Center, the national call volume for cannabis ingestion rose from 1,436 to 1,923 cases between 2017 and 2020. And those are just calls that have been tracked — the trend could be much higher.

“If you ask any of our emergency room veterinarians, they would all say that the number of cannabis-intoxicated dogs has increased by leaps and bounds since legalization of medical and then recreational marijuana for humans,” Karl Jandrey, a professor of veterinary sciences at UC Davis, told the LAT.

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What to do if Baxter hits the hooch

It’s not a laughing matter. Dogs who accidentally ingest potent edibles, especially when they’re high in THC meant for humans several times their weight, can be serious. 

Things to look out for if you suspect your four-legged pal has gotten into something he or she shouldn’t have include unsteadiness on their feet, depression, dilated eyes, and slow heart rate and low body temperature. The onset of symptoms are fast, too, about 20 to 40 minutes after exposure. 

If you suspect cannabis poisoning in your dog, call your vet immediately. They might ask you to bring them in, or they might just say to let him or her ride it out at home. At least you’ll be there to help them through their unintended trip.

Hopefully people aren’t purposely leaving edibles out for dogs (or children) to pick up out in the world. Because that's just a waste of a good buzz.