This New Year brought in plenty of resolutions, goals, and a new law (among many): legal recreational sale and use of marijuana in the state of Colorado with Washington state soon to follow. Regardless of your position concerning marijuana, we can all agree that pets have been and will continue to be exposed to it. This post is not meant to be medical advice in the least bit. We learn about this subject in a variety of our classes, especially toxicology. Here is my perspective on a couple of the most common questions asked regarding marijuana and pets.
How will this law affect the veterinary profession as a whole? There are two different ways the profession will be see a change. We will have more accidental pet exposure. This is simply a numbers game; more people will have access, therefore, so will more pets. Second, research continues on the effects of medical marijuana for pain in our four-legged critters. I only see this expanding as the views towards the drug shift. I am really excited about this research. Hospice and palliative care is advancing and improving the quality of life for our furry friends. Potentially adding one more tool to their regimen would be an ideal outcome in my mind.
Are pets likely to be harmed because of this change in the law? I believe that people will now be more inclined to take their pet to the veterinarian if they have ingested marijuana. Owners have been reluctant to 1) bring in their pet or 2) admit to what the pet ate. Not having to tiptoe around the subject will hopefully aid in getting pets the medical attention they need in a more timely manner. As an aside, veterinarians need to know this information nevertheless. Since I am still in school, I can’t comment on “what I’ve seen,” but we are taught that most pets are exposed after they snatch the bag off the coffee table or eat the brownies. Ingestion by animals looks a lot different than it does in people, so seeking veterinary medical attention for them is important.
With that said, Happy New Year, and let us make a resolution to take even better (preventive) care of our critters.