Veterinarian's charcoal chills out pothead pug

Marijuana poisoning common among pets in Vancouver

A West Point Grey pug with a taste for pot found itself at the Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic two weeks ago recovering from a high that cost its owner a hefty sum.

Chris Duplisea said shortly after she walked Mulligan July 3 at 8 p.m. on the grass and sidewalk adjacent to Steeves Manor next to Jericho Park, the pug began acting strangely.

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He was acting silly and started running in circles, said Duplisea. I didnt think much about it at first because sometimes pugs just act silly. But then he leapt up onto the couch and his eyes bugged out and he started staggering.

Duplisea feared the dog was suffering from encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. She rushed Mulligan to the Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic on West Fourth Avenue where he was diagnosed with marijuana poisoning. Duplisea assumes the dog ate a roach during their walk. They gave him a giant dose of charcoal, which helped. Thank God he liked it, but pugs will eat almost anything, said Duplisea, who noted pugs are almost impossible to muzzle.

Duplisea warned city dog owners about the dangers of marijuana poisoning. Im just thankful he didnt go into a coma, she said.

Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic veterinarian Dr. Suann Hosie said she cant comment on specific cases, but confirmed marijuana poisoning in pets is common.

Hosie said an obvious sign of a pet having ingested marijuana is it acting stoned and having a dry mouth.

If its acting in an altered mental state, dont try and fix it at home, Hosie said. Most dogs are like little vacuum cleaners that will hoover up pretty much anything they find on the ground or the floor and they really like the organic smell of marijuana so theyll just eat it.

Hosie added there is a specific test veterinarians can conduct to prove an animal has ingested marijuana. She noted the diagnosis is important because the symptoms of eating pot can be similar to even more serious ailments, such as ingesting anti-freeze or dogs born with abnormal veins. Hosie said while she knows of no dogs that have died from eating marijuana, drinking anti-freeze or even eating a half a cup of grapes will kill them.

You dont want to take that chance, she said.

Hosie said while marijuana is of concern, pet owners should be even more worried about the many common dangers lurking in their home, including flowers such as lilies, which can kill a cat, or over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen. If you drop one with that nice coating on the floor and your cat gets playing with it and eats it, that can be bad, said Hosie. If a ferret ingests 200 milligrams that would be deadly. Its extremely toxic to all pet species.

Hosie recommends treating all pets as if theyre two-year-old children, which entails keeping toxic substances in the home up high or locked away.

That includes keeping garbage out of reach of prying fingers and beer out of reach during barbecues, said Hosie. Dogs can be poisoned by alcohol, too.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter @sthomas10

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