Vets see increase in pets suffering from marijuana toxicity

Pets and Animals

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Veterinarians around Wake County are seeing an increase in pets suffering from marijuana toxicity – partly due to the rise in pet products containing CBD.

It’s a growing problem that’s leaving some dogs dead.

If you give your dog CBD-based products, you may be barking up the wrong tree and doing your dog more harm than you know.

Dr. Jennifer Shults treats a lot of dogs at Quartet Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Cary.

More and more she says she’s seeing dogs suffering from marijuana toxicity including one admitted Tuesday night.

“We have pets on a regular basis end up in our emergency department on IV treatments to make sure they recover from that episode with no long term effects,” she says.

Sometimes it’s from direct ingestion of marijuana – sometimes from CBD products.

“A CBD product can be made from a marijuana plant that has high levels THC or a hemp plant that has lower levels of THC,” says Dr. Shults. “That’s a big problem because a lot of CBD products aren’t doing any testing in the level of THC or CBD in their product.”

Why give your dog CBD based products?

Charlotte Hamilton gives hemp-based treats to her Beagle Samuel to relieve his anxiety on long car trips.

“I give him more than the recommended doses sometimes, but overall even the recommended doses calm him down,” says Hamilton.

But, some products can contain THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.

“It is toxic,” says Shults. “It can cause problems with their liver or kidneys.”

Currently, the products are unregulated and not approved by the FDA.

More studies are needed on how their use affects dogs.

FDA has not approved any products for pets to treat any condition,” says Shults.

So, any product CBD products must be marketed as ‘nutritional supplements’, but without regulation you don’t know what’s in it.

“You could buy a product on the shelf that says it’s for dogs but has toxic levels of THC and your dog ends up in the hospital,” says Shults.

According to the ASPCA, the calls for CBD poisonings nationally have skyrocketed since 2016 to nearly 300 so far this year with 10 of them in North Carolina.

  • 2016: 16 (15 dogs, 1 cat); NC: 0
  • 2017: 57 (52 dogs, 5 cats); NC: 0
  • 2018: 218 (210 dogs, 7 cats, 1 rabbit); NC: 2
  • 2019: 299 (283 dogs, 15 cats, 1 ferret); NC: 10 (from Jan. 1 – Sept. 18)

The Pet Poison helpline says it’s seen a nearly 500-percent increase in THC poisoning cases.

CBS 17 Consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia asked Hamilton if she was worried about the toxicity of the help-based treats she gives Samuel.

“There haven’t been any bad effects,” she said.

But Shults says depending on the dose and content of a CBD product, it’s possible THC can build up in a dog’s system over time faster than the body can excrete it.

Shults and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board say until there’s better research and better quality control to make sure what you’re buying for your pet is safe and effective—it’s best to avoid CBD products for your doggie.

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