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One veterinarian in Denver, Colorado is warning about the increased risks to dogs posed by legal marijuana.

You may have heard of Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, a 67-year-old veterinarian who has starred in Animal Planet shows such as Emergency Vets and E-Vet Interns. Dr. Fitzgerald, who is on staff at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver, spoke to other veterinarians in Birmingham, Alabama last week, during the annual Southern Veterinary Conference. He also later did an interview with

Marijuana Edibles Are Making Dogs Sick

He warns that legalized marijuana in his home state of Colorado has created an epidemic of dogs eating marijuana and getting sick.

Out in Colorado, where marijuana became legal in 2014, there are now more than 700 marijuana dispensaries. There are “more than Starbucks,” as Fitzgerald put it, and he says that thanks to the money it is generating “for schools and infrastructure,” he predicts that it will soon be legal everywhere.

Today’s Marijuana is a Lot Stronger

The marijuana that’s being sold today in dispensaries is much different than what we had in the 1960s. While there are varying different strains, THC levels have gone up dramatically across the board. Levels are registering as high as 22 to 28 percent, according to testing by Rocky Mountain Poison Control.

On top of having much stronger marijuana, these dispensaries are selling all kinds of products, like edible treats that dogs might find enticing. Dogs are eating these treats and are getting sick. And while it is also a concern for cats, it is mostly dogs that are ingesting edibles, “because dogs have a sweet tooth that cats don’t have. They ingest the edibles, the cookies, the brownies, the pies.”

According to Fitzgerald, his busy 24-hour practice in Denver sees one or two dogs a day that ingested marijuana-infused treats.

Marijuana Can Affect Dogs for up to Five Days, Potentially Fatal

When dogs ingest marijuana, they get stoned, just like their humans. Symptoms include dilated pupils, excessive salivation, stumbling around, urinary incontinence, accelerated heart rate, increased blood pressure, and hypersensitivity to light and sound. The effects could last for a long time, and they could end up drowsy for up to 5 days.

Unfortunately for dogs that ingest marijuana, there is no antidote, either. They just have to ride it out. On rare occasions, marijuana consumption can be fatal for dogs, though the lethal dosage is high: three grams per kilogram.

If you currently live in a state that has legalized marijuana, it is important to keep marijuana products out of your dog’s reach so that they can stay safe. And if you suspect that your dog has gotten into your stash, you should call your veterinarian immediately.