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.

 

New Study Finds BPA in Canned Dog Food May Harm Pets

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In recent years, we’ve become much more aware of the toxins in our everyday environment. One that has gotten a lot of attention is Bisphenol A, aka BPA, a chemical found in common items like plastic water bottles, thermal paper, and can linings. BPA is described as an endocrine disruptor and it also mimics estrogen. It’s been linked to a wide range of health issues, including various reproductive-related problems and cancer.

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A recent study suggests that the canned food our pets eat may contain unsafe levels of BPA as well. Researchers conducted a study of 14 dogs who regularly ate bagged dog food. They were then fed canned food (even a so-called “BPA-free” brand) and their blood was tested. The results showed that, even after just 2 weeks on the canned food diet, their BPA levels almost tripled. The researchers were able to link the BPA to changes in the dogs’ metabolisms and in microbes in their digestive systems.

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Besides the health issues that our pets themselves might be experiencing, the researchers note that animals are also very good indicators of the health risks humans face from the various environmental contaminants that we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Check out the full story, including a link to the study, on the Time magazine website.

 

FDA Warns of Dangers to Pets from Secondhand–and Thirdhand–Smoke

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a report detailing the many dangers of second- and thirdhand smoke to our dogs, cats, and other pets. You may know that secondhand smoke is when someone other than the smoker inhales tobacco smoke. But did you know that so-called thirdhand smoke is a particular danger to pets? Thirdhand smoke is toxic residue that gets on your clothes, furniture, carpets…and your pet’s fur or feathers.

If you smoke in the house around your pets, or even in the car and then drive with your dog, you are exposing your pets to the toxic chemicals that are the components of cigarette smoke. What are the particular dangers to specific kinds of pets? Here’s a summary…be sure to check the FDA website for the full story.

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Dogs: Your dog’s nose acts like a filter, designed to stop harmful particles from reaching the lungs. The bigger the nose, the more toxins collect there. That’s why long-nosed dog breeds (like Greyhounds) that are expose to smoke are at double the risk of cancer of the nose than other dogs. On the other hand, short-nosed dogs like Pugs have an increased risk of lung cancer because more particles get to the lungs.

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Cats: Because cats groom themselves by licking their fur, they are at increased risk of developing certain kinds of cancers from thirdhand smoke residue that attaches to their fur and then gets swallowed. These cancers include squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth and tongue, and lymphoma. Cats exposed to heavy smoking are three times more likely to develop lymphoma than other cats.

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Birds: Birds are very sensitive to toxins in the air, which is why experts recommend keeping them out of the kitchen when cooking. Birds are negatively affected by inhaling secondhand smoke, and like cats, groom their feathers, which increases their exposure to thirdhand smoke residue. They can get allergies, pneumonia, and lung cancer.

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Guinea pigs: Studies have shown that pocket pets like guinea pigs that are exposed to smoke can develop changes in their lungs, emphysema, high blood pressure, and weight loss.

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Fish: Being in water does not protect fish from the dangers of smoking. Nicotine is easily dissolvable in water and is toxic to fish. High levels of nicotine exposure can cause muscle spasms, rigidity, and even death in fish.

Besides not smoking near your pets or in any environment your pets may enter, you should also make sure to keep cigarettes and e-cigarettes away from your pets to prevent accidental ingestion.