It was 4 a.m. and I was finally asleep, after a very busy weekend at the veterinary hospital, when I received a phone call on my emergency line from a panicked dog owner.
The owners, a young bubbly couple, were just ending an evening of partying when they noticed their 10-month-old puppy was acting very strange.
The dog had suddenly become apathetic, non-reactive, was stumbling and couldn’t bear weight and stand up, let alone walk.
The oddest symptom of all was the dog’s hunched back and his inability to control his urination.
The owners were terrified and had no clue what had happened to their dog.
They left him in my safe hands to run some tests. Basic laboratory tests of blood and urine did not reveal any remarkable abnormalities.
Since I’ve seen numerous cases that were similar, before I proceeded to perform more expensive tests I called the owners and asked whether there is a chance that the dog had been exposed to marijuana.
The owners were shocked by my question, and denied it completely.
It was clear that the dog’s nerve system had been injured.
My concern and aim was to locate the damage and assess its extent.
X-ray tests showed no damage to the dog’s vertebral column.
I called the owners again, and after gaining their trust they hesitantly admitted that there were some cookies containing pot at their party that night, and yes, four cookies were missing.
This information shed light on the dog’s condition and allowed me to treat him accordingly.
The dog consumed an overdose 10 times larger than what is considered safe for his weight.
The dog reached full recovery after spending two days in the hospital with us.
Smoking illegal substances is one’s personal choice.
It is natural to assume that weed smoking people, exclude their underage children from the situation, and inhibit their access to the drugs.
Pets are very similar to young children in many aspects.
They also are very curious, they test everything by their mouth not always with good judgement.
This is very important to remember, to protect your pets from substances that may harm them.
Marijuana intoxication is quite common among pets, especially dogs.
The drug affects the animal’s nerve system and manifests by a very wide range of symptoms including depression, wobbliness, aggression, hallucinations, seizures and even coma.
One of the most common phenomenon I’ve seen in these intoxications is alternating episodes of depression and then excitement in which the dog seems normal to the owners. Other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea may also appear.
There are specific tests that can detect the drug in the blood and urine, but in most of the cases the diagnosis is done by the symptoms and the information given by the owner.
Tell your veterinarian if your pet may have been exposed to marijuana.
A vet’s main priority is the pet’s care and well being.
Sharing the information with your vet will allow your animal to receive the right treatment promptly, and will save you time and money.
The treatment of marijuana intoxication is only supportive. There is no antidote for marijuana.
If the animal gets to the vet within 30 minutes from the drug ingestion, vomiting can be induced.
After 30 minutes from the ingestion the drug’s absorption can be prevented so the measures are taken to decrease the drug’s effect to a minimum. This can be done by feeding the pet active charcoal, which binds to the drug and inhibits absorption, and by administering IV fluids.
Most animals will reach full recovery with the right treatment.
Remember, your vet is on your side.
The vet’s job is not to judge you, so disclosing all the information known to you is crucial for your pet’s best medical care.