Recreational marijuana sales bring safety concerns to veterinarians


(WPRI) — Recreational marijuana sales began in Massachusetts just a few weeks ago, and with it came concerns for veterinarians.

While there isn’t a lot of data yet on if there has been an increase in dogs ingesting marijuana since the sales began, there has been an increase in poison controls, nationally, for dogs that have ingested marijuana over the past several years. 

A medical director from the VCA Animal Hospital in Springfield, Mass. says that since the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, he’s seen increased cases of marijuana toxicity in pets.

“Extremely high doses can certainly cause seizures, respiratory paralysis or difficulty breathing,” said Medical Director Aleberto Fernandez. 

One doctor from the Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital in Waltham, Mass. says edibles are the main concern.

“Dogs that come in having eaten the plant, they have to ingest a lot of that to get fatal signs,” said Dr. Erin McGowan. “It’s when they’re eating edibles or like the tinctures or anything concentrated with the cannabinoid that’s really concerning.”

McGowan says that it is especially dangerous for dogs to ingest marijuana because they have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains, in comparison to people.

According to McGowan, owners in Massachusetts are more willing to say what their dog has ingested now that marijuana is legal in the state.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPCA), chocolate was the number one toxin in pets in Massachusetts last year. 

Officials say that chocolate edible products are particularly concerning.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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