Dogs and Chocolate Marijuana Edibles: A Toxic Combination

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A recent report in The New York Times highlights a dangerous and increasingly common health threat to our pets (especially dogs) – eating recreational or medical marijuana…and chocolate desserts that contain marijuana. Most pet owners know that they should keep chocolate, a known toxin, away from their animals. But if that chocolate brownie also happens to contain marijuana, your dog could be doubly at risk.

According to the article, consuming marijuana can cause symptoms like lethargy, unsteady gait, urinary incontinence, excessive salivation, and sensitivity to noise, light, and movements. But the ingestion of marijuana alone is rarely fatal. Your vet will induce vomiting and provide extra hydration during recovery. New York City’s Animal Medical Center reports that it treats several cases of pet marijuana poisoning every week.

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Consuming marijuana alone can be harmful enough, but if your dog consumes a chocolate marijuana edible like brownies, the effects could be life-threatening. The director of the ASPCA’s poison control center reports that any canine deaths from marijuana ingestion pretty much always involve the dog consuming chocolate as well.

The toxic component of chocolate, a compound called theobromine (combined with the chocolate’s caffeine) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, thirst, restlessness, increased heart rate, and excessive urination. In serious cases, dogs can experience tremors, seizures, and heart failure. Older dogs with underlying heart conditions can die. As with marijuana poisoning, your vet will induce vomiting and give extra fluids.

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It’s important to keep all forms of marijuana and chocolate out of your curious dog’s reach. When the two are combined into one edible, be especially careful to make sure your dog cannot access this tempting but potentially deadly food.

The 15 Most Dangerous Pet Toxins

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The experts in veterinary toxicology at the Animal Poison Control Center recently put out a very useful list of the top 15 drugs, household items, and plants that are dangerous to pets. Here’s a quick rundown. Be sure to check out their website for the complete story, lots of valuable information about pet poisons, and to learn more about the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661.

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  1. Sago Palm. An ornamental plant that is highly toxic and can cause liver failure in pets. Unsafe as an indoor or outdoor plant.

2. 5-Fluorouracil. A topical chemotherapy treatment which can be deadly to pets.

3. Baclofen. A human muscle relaxant that can cause seizures, coma, and death in pets.

4. Isoniazid. A treatment for tuberculosis, this drug can cause severe toxic reactions in pets.

5. Calcipotriene/Calcipotriol. A synthetic form of Vitamin D. Even a tiny amount can be toxic to pets.

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6. Lilies. Lilies are especially toxic to cats…even the pollen. Ingesting lilies causes acute kidney failure in cats.

7. Ethylene Glycol. This is the sweet-tasting but toxic ingredient in antifreeze that causes kidney failure and central nervous system distress in pets.

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8. Metaldehyde. An ingredient in snail and slug bait. Causes seizures, tremors, and hypothermia in pets.

9. Baking Xylitol. This type of sugar substitute is especially toxic to dogs, even more so than the xylitol in gum or candy, because it is 100% xylitol.

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10. Golden Malrin. A fly bait that can cause the same symptoms as organophosphates (see #11).

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11. Organophosphates. A type of insecticide that causes severe central nervous system, heart, and digestive reactions in pets.

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12. Rodenticides made with Vitamin D or Bromethalin. Two very dangerous types of rodent killer that are designed to be attractive to animals. Ones made with Vitamin D cause kidney failure and those with bromethalin cause brain swelling.

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13. Japanese Yew. All parts of this ornamental plant are toxic to pets. In fact, horses can die if they graze on the trimmings.

14. Caffeine Pills. This includes diet and fitness supplements that contain caffeine. Pets are extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

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15. Grapes and Raisins. Can cause severe kidney failure in pets, even just a small amount.

 

A FACE in the Spotlight: Meet Dr. Carrie Bone

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FACE held its first-ever cat dental clinic this month, treating four kitties who received past grants for emergency veterinary care, to ensure that these grantees could continue to lead healthy lives. This clinic would not have been possible without the generous assistance of Dr. Carrie Bone and her colleagues at La Jolla Veterinary Hospital. They donated their time and expertise, and along with funds from Roxy’s Dental Fund (which assists FACE grantees with dental care costs), these deserving kitties were able to get much-needed dental care.

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La Jolla Veterinary Hospital has been a long-time supporter of FACE’s mission to provide financial assistance to families with pets who need life-saving veterinary care. While their particular clientele does not necessarily need this assistance, the practice is committed to helping pets in need whenever they can. Dr. Bone joined La Jolla Vet one year ago, after practicing for 10 years in North San Diego County, and has enthusiastically embraced the cause.

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“FACE has always been there as an option when times and decisions are tough,” she notes. “It’s an opening when many other doors seem closed.” She cites an example from the dental clinic. One of the patients received a FACE grant to treat a urinary blockage. The cat’s urinary problems were under control with a special diet, but his teeth had severe tartar build-up and infection. “Both the urinary issues and the dental disease are very treatable health issues in animals. They can cause suffering if not addressed,” explains Dr. Bone. “But addressing these problems does incur costs which can sometimes be limiting. So, with the help of FACE, this cat’s quality of life truly improved, and he will hopefully be happy and healthy for a long time to come.”

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Dr. Bone’s commitment to her patients is inspiring. “I like to be the one who translates animal health and medicine to the owners who love their pets so much. I like to see how pets can make people so happy, and vice versa,” she says. Her goal is clear: “I mostly like keeping the healthy animals healthy and making the sick ones better!”

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When not working, Dr. Bone enjoys spending time with her dog “Larry Bird”—a terrier mix whose handsome good looks *almost* make up for his naughty behavior! She loves taking him out on neighborhood “smell-a-thons” and also likes to go to concerts and surf.

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FACE thanks Dr. Carrie Bone and everyone at La Jolla Veterinary Hospital for making our first cat dental clinic possible, as well as for all of the generous support they have provided over the years. We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing veterinary partners and we are grateful for their dedication and support!

 

A FACE in the Spotlight: Meet Buzzy Parrish

Buzzy and friend "Nemo" looking dapper!

Buzzy and friend “Nemo” looking dapper!

The Pet Emergency and Specialty Center of San Diego has been a valued FACE Foundation veterinary partner since 2009. Together, we have worked to save 153 lives…mostly dogs and cats, but also a bunny and an iguana! The success of our partnership is due in very large part to PESC’s Referring Veterinarian Relations Manager Buzzy Parrish. Buzzy has been with PESC for 17 years, and plays a key role in ensuring that both clients and referring vets receive the best possible care.

Buzzy keeps FACE and our grantees happy too! As FACE Executive Director Brooke Haggerty notes, “Buzzy is one of our favorite hospital reps to work with here at FACE.” Buzzy loves working with all of the pets and clients who make their way to the Center to receive emergency and specialized care. And he certainly has a special affection for FACE cases. “It’s great to know that there’s an organization out there that truly cares and helps whenever they can,” Buzzy says. “The amount of pets saved because of FACE is terrific. There’s no reason a pet should be euthanized just because of lack of money.”

FACE Success Story "Pips"

FACE Success Story “Pips”

One of Buzzy’s favorite FACE success stories is a sweet kitty named Pips. Pips came in with a urinary blockage, which is always a veterinary emergency, and it was also discovered that he had bladder stones. After initial treatment for the blockage and the stones, poor Pips became obstructed again. He needed an operation called a perineal urethrostomy, which is a permanent surgical widening of the urethra. “After two big bills, the owners were tapped out and FACE came to the rescue and helped with the surgery,” Buzzy notes. We’re happy to report that Pips is doing great now!

Pips being comforted by his sister Batty!

Pips being comforted by his sister Batty!

Buzzy loves working with all the animals that come in to PESC, but will admit to a special fondness for cats. He has two of them at home…Maynard and Cobie! Besides spending time with his fur kids, Buzzy enjoys music, and just relaxing and having fun when he’s away from the hospital.

FACE extends our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Buzzy Parrish and all of the veterinarians and staff at PESC. We look forward to many more years of saving lives together!

 

What is a Veterinary Emergency? Advice from the Experts

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It’s rare for a pet owner to go through life without experiencing at least one serious veterinary emergency. Recognize this scenario? It’s midnight on Saturday and your dog or cat seems sick or hurt. Your vet’s office will be closed until Monday morning. Do you wait it out or take your pet to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital? The answer depends on the particular symptoms your pet is experiencing.

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The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has lots of great information for pet owners on their website, including what to do in an emergency. While it’s never wrong to call the vet if you have a concern, how do you determine if it’s time to go to the hospital? Here are a few of the most common scenarios that the AAHA classifies as definite emergencies that require immediate care:

  • Physical trauma such as being hit by a car or falling several feet.
  • No detectable breathing or heartbeat.
  • Unconsciousness.
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea for 24 hours, especially if you’re seeing blood.
  • Suspected broken bones.
  • Breathing difficulties and/or an object is stuck in the throat.
  • Seizures.
  • Bleeding from the eyes, nose or mouth (and blood in urine or feces).
  • Suspected ingestion of a toxic food, drug, or household item like antifreeze.
  • Your male cat is making frequent trips to the litter box but cannot urinate.
  • Whining, shaking, hiding or other signs of pain.
  • Your pet collapses and is unable to get up again.
  • Bumping into things and/or disorientation.
  • Eye injury, as well as behavior indicating that your pet cannot see.
  • A hard, swollen abdomen and attempts to vomit.
  • Signs of heatstroke.
  • Pregnancy and delivery problems, such as a gap of 3-4 hours between birth of a puppy or kitten.

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The AAHA recommends getting your pet to the vet ASAP in these situations. If your regular vet doesn’t provide emergency services or contact information, then locate an emergency facility near you. It’s always good to know of one or two 24-hour hospitals in your area before a crisis situation occurs so you are prepared.