Pups high on THC pack Wash. emergency clinics

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by ALISON MORROW / KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 6:12 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 8:07 PM

AUBURN, Wash. -- Since the legalization of recreational marijuana, emergency clinic veterinarians have reported an increase in animal THC toxicity.

In a busy month, they can treat up to 30 new cases.

"A busy week, I've seen 10-12 cases," said Dr. Nathanial Stewart of Pacific Avenue Animal Hospital. "I saw a Beagle once that ate an entire zip-lock baggie full of marijuana buds."

Last week, 14-week old "Monkus" arrived at Affordable Animal Emergency Clinic in Auburn.

"Lying in her own vomit, shaking," her owner Aleah Helmbrecht explained. "Her eyes were bright red...She was wobbly and couldn't stand up right."

Like any puppy, Monkus loves to eat anything she finds, but Helmbrecht never figured the Daschund-terrier mix found her aunt's cannabis.

"[You could] also smell from her breath that it smelled like marijuana," Dr. Ruby Donnaway. "There are weeks where we're pretty much seeing it every single night."

Monkus was given medication that forced her to vomit, as well as liquid charcoal to help her pass any remaining plant particles.

Dr. Donnaway estimates they've seen the number of THC-positive animals, mostly dogs, double in the last year.

"I don't know if it's an increase in the amount of cases or people are more willing to let us know," she said.

As the edible market grows more popular, an ever diverse list of ingredients makes products more appealing to the senses.

"Nobody wants to be chewing on weeds," said Delta 9 Owner Stephanie Viskovich.

Now, products include far more options than brownies. The packaging and labeling has also grown more safety-conscious.

"Any infused product should be treated as a medicine, not as a baked good to be hanging around," Viskovich said.

According to Dr. Donnaway, the lethal cannabis dose for dogs is 3 grams per kilogram of animal weight.

"It can trigger seizures, coma, or even death," said Dr. Stewart.

Most animal THC cases, vets say, can be treated if the symptoms are caught early. They recommend owners bring their pets to a vet immediately if they suspect marijuana toxicity.

Helmbrecht's aunt, a cancer patient, smokes marijuana to help with her treatment. Now, the pup's entire family practices better cannabis control.

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