Unexpected pandemic side effect: THC poisoning in dogs - InfoNews

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Unexpected pandemic side effect: THC poisoning in dogs

Monty was shaking for hours after ingesting cannabis from an unknown source. He was one of 13 dogs treated at Fairfield Animal Hospital in Kelowna on the Easter long weekend.
April 24, 2020 - 2:47 PM

A Kelowna animal hospital has seen an increase in the number of cases of THC poisoning in dogs during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Staff at the Fairfield Animal Hospital in Kelowna usually treat a couple of cases of canine THC poisoning a week but since the health emergency was declared, they’ve seen that number climb to three or four a week with 13 cases on the Easter long weekend.

“We’re seeing it a little more since COVID,” Dr. Jennifer Watt told iNFOnews.ca today, April 24. “People are home more.”

Most of the time dogs get into their owners’ stash of cannabis but Watt points out they can also snap up a roach left beside a trail or in a dog park.

“Dogs seem to be drawn to it,” Watt said. “It tastes good to them so they will seek it out and eat it.”

Dogs are about 10 times more susceptible to the drug than humans so they can have serious reactions.

“There are some classic symptoms; incoordination, listlessness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, urinary incontinence and a startle reaction (the dogs appear drowsy but then overreact to noise and touch),” she wrote in an article. Sometimes the dog’s head will bob and it will shiver.

A simple urine test can confirm if the symptoms come from THC.

“Too much THC can lower the heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to dangerous levels and can cause a loss of consciousness,” she wrote.

Last night, she dealt with two cases. One was mild and the dog was sent home but another was unconscious. The worst case she’s seen was a dachshund that was unconscious for two days. It recovered.

There doesn’t seem to any set dosage for dogs. As with humans, they can all react differently. Even a discarded roach can trigger a bad reaction in some dogs.

She recommends that dogs be taken to a veterinarian so the animal's heart rate and blood pressure can be checked.

They can be treated for nausea, and charcoal can be given to prevent further absorption. In more serious cases, the dog will be kept in overnight and treated with fluids. That can be expensive, costing a few hundred dollars.

The good news is there don’t seem to be lasting side effects.

And it’s not just dogs that get into drug stashes. Last night, a cat arrived at the clinic after it ate some cocaine.

“It was quite agitated,” Watt noted.

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