As Edibles Proliferate, Colorado Vets Are Seeing More Dogs On Pot

Feb 8, 2015

A team made up of Vermont law enforcement, public officials and community leaders will head to Colorado on Sunday to gather information about that state’s experience with marijuana now that it’s legal there. 

Whether or not Vermont follows suit, it's likely pot-infused edibles will become more common.

We all know that pets like treats meant for humans – and a leading Colorado veterinarian is warning pet owners that the number of dogs accidentally eating pot products there is rising.

Apryl Steele is past president of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. She says since pot became legal in Colorado, they’ve seen a four-fold increase in the number of dogs who’ve had to be treated for accidentally eating it. Steele says people don’t realize THC, the active ingredient, is much more toxic to dogs and she says dogs don’t understand the concept of only eating a small portion of something.

“These animals are miserable,” Steele says. “They just don’t know what’s happening to them. They’re frantic – their eyes are dilated but they’re looking around like the world is coming to an end. And it can last hours to a couple days sometimes.”

"These animals are miserable. They just don't know what's happening to them. They're frantic - their eyes are dilated but they're looking around like the world is coming to an end. And it can last hours to a couple days sometimes." - Apryl Steele, past president of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association

Steele says the marijuana that’s ingested through inhaling contains less than 5 percent THC. But hash-infused cooking oils and butter contain about 15 percent THC.  And dogs, she says, will eat anything.

“And we don’t know that they’ve had marijuana toxicity,” she says. “We’re going to be thinking brain tumor, so that’s is an extremely expensive course of diagnosis and treatment, which is another reason to let your veterinarian know.”

Marijuana toxicity is rarely fatal in dogs, and Steele says they normally just try to keep dogs calm and safe and try to reduce their nausea and anxiety.

As more states consider legalizing marijuana, Steele says this kind of problem will likely increase.

Kathy Finnie, head of Vermont’s Veterinary Medical Association, says thankfully she has not heard that it’s a problem in Vermont – yet.