Vets warn of dog exposure to marijuana edibles

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. (KTVU) -- Pet owners would do most anything for their animals, protecting them from all kinds of hazards. But now, it has become clear that one problem dog owners are facing with alarming frequency is their pets overdosing on marijuana edibles.

A Pleasant Hill woman owns a dog that ate something while on a hike that made him very sick. She told KTVU she was shocked to hear the veterinarian say the dog was stoned.

Marko is a playful Beagle-Boston Terrier mix.

"We go on hikes every Monday and Tuesday," said Marko's owner, Kristy Safarians.

But this Monday's hike didn't go quite as planned.

"He was walking kind of like he was drunk," Safarians remembered.

She said he got sick on the way home and once in the house, things got worse.

"He goes to drink his water and his hind legs just slid out from underneath him. It was almost comical, they slide out. And I'm like, 'Hmm, that's not right,'" said Safarians.

So Safarians took Marko to the Sage animal hospital in Concord.

"And the vet calls me and says, 'I just want to let you know we don't have to do as much testing now, your dog's a pot dog.' I'm like 'What?' She's like 'Yeah, your dog's stoned.'"

Briones Park, near Martinez, is a popular spot for dog owners.

"Sometimes you want them to have a little sniffing time. And you don't really necessarily know what he's sniffing," said dog owner Edie Peterson of Pleasant Hill.

Safarians believes someone dropped a marijuana edible. Marko got sick from something he found and ate at Briones. But veterinarians say that kind of exposure is rare.

What is much more common is dogs getting sick from something they found at home.

"You know, it's probably weekly now. It never used to be at that level, but it's certainly increased," says Dr. Richard Benjamin at the Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital.

Staff at Sage Hospital say they see it three to four times per week.

Benjamin told KTVU dogs love marijuana edibles such as cookies.

"And usually it's an overdose as well. So people need to both stash their stash, if you look at it that way, but also recognize that the animal has gotten into the marijuana," said Benjamin.

Symptoms of dogs ingesting marijuana edibles include staggering, leaking urine, and being easily startled. It can be fatal if not treated quickly.

"Today, he's back to normal. And he seems hungry," Safarians laughed about her now recovered dog Marko.