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Alarming number of pets ingesting marijuana after Arizona legalizes it

You wouldn't guess that gummies or edibles would be a problem for your pets but one doctor says storing your stash is at the center of the increase.

PHOENIX — It's that time of year where friends and family head over for the holidays and food is abundant, but it's important to keep scraps and table food from getting to "fido." 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or ASPCA says that includes items like edibles. Cases of canines consuming cannabis are skyrocketing in Arizona.

One of the reasons is the legalization of recreational marijuana, but veterinarian Mike Retford points to other explanations that are easy to fix. You wouldn't guess that gummies or edibles would be a problem for your pets but Retford says storing your stash is at the center of the increase.

"It's heartbreaking for the owners. We can usually pull them out of it but the owners feel horrible because sometimes they know darn well what happened," he explained. "The fancy word for it is 'ataxia dyskinesia.' Things like that, your dog is going to be really shaky and unable to walk correctly."

He's treated several cases of intoxication through cannabis in canines, saying it honestly boils down to one big oversight which is how you store your stash.

Casual storage, or lack thereof, of sativa and indica products, led to the 328% increase in cases from 2015 where 38 were reported to 231 cases reported in Arizona this year, according to the ASCPA.

"Hate to say careless with where the products are kept, but pets will get into it and if they can find it they will eat it. You want to be really careful where you keep that especially the pure product with THC in it and dogs do not have a good time it is not fun for them," Retford added.

Symptoms to watch:

  • Disoriented
  • Less responsive
  • Vision impairment
  • Shakiness
  • More skittish than usual

Retford added that your pets will probably show several signs and symptoms of exposure and consumption. While cannabis can be therapeutic for pets, it's not clear what percentage of the products is best and it's better to avoid the ER visit and keep your stash stored properly and out of reach.

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