I like to get high. I get high often. A soft belly rub is one of my favorite highs. Playing with toys is a medium high while hiking with people I trust is off the charts high. Yes, fun living is my recreational drug and I write today to encourage you to keep the other types of recreational drugs away from me and other pets. We just don’t know how to say no – especially if it tastes good.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline (PPH) there has been a 330% increase in the number of accidental marijuana ingestions in pets over the past five years. This is of course due to increased availability for both medical and recreational marijuana, as well as its many novel forms such as foods, pills, oils, and tinctures. It’s also stronger; new hybrids and cultivation techniques have resulted in plants with significantly more THC as compared to those in decades past.

Most ingestion cases involve pets ingesting “medibles” which are homemade or commercial marijuana-infused foods like brownies, cookies, gummy candy, pizza, ice cream, caramel corn, chocolates, bread, snack mixes, and much more all of which are making me salivate just thinking of them. But they typically contain 60-90% THC, and small ingestions pose great risk for pets (especially for those walking vacuum cleaner type pets that can’t just stop at one weed-infused cookie).

The good news is that with the legalization of marijuana people are now more likely to seek help if their pet ingests it. Although veterinarians report that pet owners are still skittish about admitting what their pets truly ingested and instead come up with creative stories about consuming matches, laundry soap, non-toxic plants, carpet, paper, etc. rather than admit marijuana might have been involved.

The classic symptoms that your pet (yes, although reported in much smaller numbers, cats like to nibble on the infused treat as well) is feeling high are a dazed expression, glassy eyes, incoordination, slow response times, and dribbling urine. Vomiting and salivation are also common signs, despite marijuana’s potent antiemetic effects. This is especially true if the live or dried plant is ingested. Other possible signs include racing or slowed heart rate, vocalization, anxiety, hyperactivity and seizures.

Depending on the route of administration, the onset of clinical signs may be five to ten minutes from inhaling the smoke, or thirty minutes to several hours if ingested. Thankfully, the margin of safety for marijuana is very wide and fatality is rare in pets. Typically your veterinarian will induce vomiting, monitor vitals, and recommend observation until the effects wear off. Recovery may take 24-72 hours, depending on the dose ingested.

Now back to me and my clean high living ways. I am a one year young female Bull mix who is just naturally sweet and affectionate – like I just can’t help it. I spent most of my year of life fending for myself, begging for food and just surviving. I arrived at Second Chance very malnourished but am now healthy and ready for my real life to start. Come adopt me and so we can get high on life together…

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online: www.adoptmountainpets.org.