Dog illness from ingesting cannabis ‘more and more common’, Harrison Hot Springs vet says

A Harrison Hot Springs vet says more dogs are coming in with symptoms after ingesting discarded cannabis cigarettes – something that could increase further with tourist season. AdobeStock

It’s just in a dog’s nature to eat something it isn’t supposed to. However, Fraser Valley veterinarians stress the need to keep a watchful eye on your dog’s catch of the day.

Dr. Laura Madsen, owner of Beach Dogs Veterinary Walk-in Clinic, said there’s been an uptick in recent weeks of dogs ingesting leftover cannabis from discarded cigarettes in the Agassiz-Harrison area, which can make dogs seriously sick.

“It smells so yummy to dogs,” Madsen said. “They love it; they just love it. It can damage their internal organs, if they get enough of it. They could choke on their vomit, and it’s not very good for them to be staggering about and falling.”

With the coming tourism season, there could be more tasty but harmful temptations lying about for our canine friends.

“A lot of people have no idea where their dog got it,” Madsen added.

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How much ingesting cannabis would affect a dog depends on the size and health of the dog. There are a few general signs to look out for if you suspect your dog has eaten cannabis, such as staggering and disorientation. However, that staggering can indicate a bigger issue, which makes testing particularly important.

“Some people have no idea why their dog is staggering because a lot of really serious conditions will look like that, too,” Madsen said. “Even if the owner doesn’t think there’s been any (cannabis) exposure, when we get a little urine sample from the dog, then we know for sure.”

READ MORE: Misadventure in park has B.C. dog owner raising alarm about cannabis hazards

Madsen said her office would want to get the dog treated within an hour of the dog ingesting the cannabis. Usually, the veterinarian would try to induce vomiting, but if it’s been longer than an estimated four hours, the dog may be given Intralipid to help neutralize some of the ill effects.

“Of all the things that would make dogs stagger, that’s quite survivable unless you get a huge, huge dose,” Madsen said. In the event cannabis is ruled out, vets must continue on with other tests for more severe conditions.

“Heart conditions can look like that, mushroom poisoning can look like that, metabolic diseases like a calcium imbalance can look like that,” she added. “If the owner doesn’t think that the animal had any exposure to marijuana, it’s not first on our list, but now, it’s becoming more and more common.”

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