Puppy OK after gobbling up pot

Veterinary nurse says probem not uncommon, owners urged to bring pet in for treatment

Susan Wyatt hopes other dog owners don’t experience the ordeal she went through with her three-month-old puppy, Flora.

While out for a walk on the beach at Cape Lazo in Comox Feb. 6, she says her yellow lab retriever picked up and ingested marijuana that was laced with barbiturates.

“Apparently, this has happened numerous times before in and around Comox,” Wyatt said. “People should be warned.”

She took Flora to Van Isle Veterinary Hospital for treatment. The dog is nearly back to herself.

“We see it (dogs ingesting marijuana) all the time,” said Leanne Kelly, a veterinarian nurse.

These cases can happen at home, or when owners take dogs to a beach, a playground or the forest. Even if a dog is leashed, the animal can still gobble something from the ground in the blink of an eye.

“How do you control that?” Kelly said. “The bottom line is, if you see signs, see us right away. And don’t panic.”

According to Kelly, the signs are the same as a person who is stoned.

For instance, a dog might stumble around, urinate on itself, or be scared of its own shadow.

But drug ingestion doesn’t typically kill a dog.

“To lose a case is rare,” Kelly said, noting smaller dogs are more at risk.

But dogs that become sick from drug ingestion is nevertheless a growing concern, considering medicinal marijuana is on the brink of legalization, and considering problems associated with fentanyl. Kelly said the hospital treated a cat that survived after ingesting fentanyl.

She implores pet owners to be honest if their animal requires medical treatment.

“Sometimes people lie,” Kelly said. “We’re not going to call the police. We just need to know. It’s better to say, ‘I have fentanyl in my home.’ We really don’t care at that point. Different drugs are more dangerous. And it’s important for us to know the amount.”