Animal rescues

Some animal rescues are seeing an increase in pet drug overdoses

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control has reported a more than 300% increase in marijuana-related cases over the past five years.

In South Florida, workers at Barky Pines Animal Rescue say they are getting more and more calls about pets getting sick from drug use.

“What we’ve seen is an increase in the number of animals going to emergency clinics who are overdosing,” said Elizabeth Accomando of Barky Pines.

Some of the calls have been linked to animals getting into opioids.

A South Florida nonprofit group is going so far as to train people to administer the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, or Narcan, to animals.

But the ASPCA Animal Poison Control chief veterinarian says they haven’t seen a spike in opioid-related calls in pets. The risk increased more in working dogs like law enforcement K9s.

“The important part we stress to them is that once you’ve given the dose, you then need to take the dog straight to the vet because usually he’ll need more than one dose,” Dr. Tina Wismer in reference to giving Narcan to animals.

But it’s marijuana, especially edibles, that has led to a huge increase in calls for poison control.

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, there has been an increase in marijuana-related cases:

2017: 1,436 cases

2018: 1,767 cases

2019: 2,812 cases

2020: 3,923 cases

2021: 6,259 cases

Pets consuming over-the-counter drugs and chocolate make up the bulk of poison control calls.

Timing makes a big difference in preventing them from becoming seriously ill, as over-the-counter medications are absorbed fairly quickly.

“The time to induce vomiting is quite short, 10 to 15 minutes. Chocolate can stay in the stomach for up to 12 hours in dogs. So we can make these guys throw up several hours later if they’re not already throwing up on their own,” Dr. Wismer said.

Pet experts can tell pet owners how to use 3% hydrogen peroxide to help a pet clear everything it eats from its system.

If you find yourself in an emergency, the pet poison control number is 1-888-426-4435.