Vets seeing spike in pets eating marijuana, some side effects can be deadly

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Vets seeing a spike in pets eating marijuana and getting sick

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Oklahoma veterinarians said they're seeing one to two cases of dogs eating marijuana edibles per week.

There's no doubt Oklahoma's medical marijuana business is booming, but in turn, it's hurting some four-legged family members.

Dr. Mike Jones with Woodland West Animal Hospital said pets eating pot is becoming an everyday thing in Oklahoma.

"I'm afraid as this gets more and more common and available, people buying large allotments, I think the fatalities can come," said Jones.

Jones said no dogs have died, but the symptoms can lead to death if untreated.

"Many of the times, the dog will go lay down and kind of go to sleep, then next thing you know, they're in too deep of a sleep. Their heart rate is decreasing. We've had a couple dogs come in here with heart rates in 40 [or] 30 beats per minute, which can be fatal," said Jones.

Most of the time, the dog's body can't function normally when they eat marijuana.

"They'll be stumbling around; one of the signs we really see is, boy, they'll urinate a lot. All of the sudden, they're stumbling and peeing and really acting odd," said Jones.

Pet owner Michael Belcher has seen first hand the side effects of dogs eating marijuana.

Belcher uses edibles to help him sleep and curb pain.

Recently, he woke up to his 13-year-old Terrier Mix struggling to get up one morning, then he realized a part of his edible he takes to sleep had vanished.

He said he usually puts it up, but kept it on his nightstand that one night in case he woke up.

"I went over to pet her, and she literally couldn't stand. I was scared and worried I might've killed her," said Belcher. "She was frightened. She was scared to death, and she just didn't know what was happening to her. I don't know if she was having a good time or notice was struggling was very worried for her."

Belcher was worried her heart would slow down, and possibly kill her.

He then rushed her to Jones' clinic.

"Four hundred and thirteen dollars later, and a whole day at the vet, we brought her home. She slept for about a day," said Belcher.

THC is the part that makes edibles so harmful to dogs, according to Jones.

"It's much more toxic to dogs than it is to people," said Jones. "It is a drug. It does cause changes to the body."

This proved to be a serious lesson dog owner Belcher hopes everyone can learn from.

"It's our jobs as humans to protect our animals, and I did not do that. I was disappointed in myself," said Belcher.

Dr. Jones said in the next three to five years, research should provide a better understanding of what is the safest option when it comes to marijuana and dogs.