Cannabis toxicity is a dangerous reality for dogs

As the weather improves and temperatures rise, more people take to the outdoors for relaxation and exercise.

A byproduct of this is discarded cannabis butts left on sidewalks and in dog parks.

Unsuspecting dog walkers can be in for a frightening surprise.

Here are a couple of examples reported to the BC SPCA.

After her six-year-old cocker spaniel, Joey became sick multiple times after picking up and eating joint butts off the ground, Kelowna-area resident Shelley Wood says she keeps a vigilant watch on her pet when out in public spaces.

“On two occasions he must have ingested more than the butt of a joint because he had quite a severe reaction,” she said. “Vomiting, losing control of his legs, stumbling, and having what seemed like tiny involuntary seizures.”

READ MORE: Scooby doobie don’t: Discarded joints pose hazards for dogs

Karen Beckmann’s chocolate Labrador puppy, Daisy, had her first incident with marijuana at 10 weeks old. She rushed her little one to the vet where they confirmed the poisoning with a urine test.

“My husband thought she was having a stroke, she was wobbling, her eyes were red and she could not walk straight,” said Beckmann.

Wood says it’s important for pet guardians to be aware that the smell of marijuana butts can be irresistible to some dogs and if your dog behaves strangely at home, they may have swallowed one on their daily walk.

READ MORE: Island resident upset after dog gets sick from cannabis discarded in park

The effects of cannabis on your dog

If your dog is exposed to marijuana – by ingesting it or inhaling secondhand smoke – they may display these symptoms:

• Lethargy

• Dilated pupils or glassed-over eyes

• Loss of balance

• Whining

• Breathing problems

• Agitated behaviour

• Excessive drooling

• Vomiting

• Urinary incontinence

• Changes in blood pressure

• Abnormal heart rhythm

• Tremors

• Body temperature too high or too low

• Seizures

• Coma

Signs of possible toxicity show up anywhere between five minutes to 12 hours after exposure. Depending on the amount of marijuana the dog has been exposed to, symptoms of poisoning can last from 30 minutes to multiple days.

Size plays a major role in how exposure to marijuana affects your dog, with smaller dogs being at greatest risk because of their faster metabolism.

What risks does marijuana ingestion bring?

The risk of marijuana poisoning in dogs ranges from moderate to severe. Marijuana can be lethal for dogs when a large amount has been ingested. Reports show that dogs have a larger number of cannabinoid receptors in their brain compared to humans and therefore may be more sensitive to the toxic effects of THC than humans.

What to do in case of marijuana toxicity

If your dog has been exposed to marijuana, call your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control immediately.

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