A St. Albert family is sharing their story in hopes of warning other dog owners, after their seven-month-old puppy picked up a discarded joint butt on a walk and became extremely ill.
Krysta Wilson said she was walking her yorkshire-poodle cross Pepper near Bertha Kennedy Community School on June 20, when she noticed the dog had picked up something in her mouth.
“She picked up what I thought was a cigarette filter in her mouth, and was chewing on it because she chews on everything,” Wilson said.
“It was probably in there for less than 20 seconds.”
She said even though she removed the butt as quickly as possible, within an hour Pepper started exhibiting symptoms.
“She was wobbling, her feet were going out from under her, she lost all bladder control,” Wilson said. “She was trying to go to the bathroom — she’d just kind of collapse.”
Wilson and her husband brought Pepper in to the VCA Canada North Central Animal Hospital in Edmonton for treatment. She said the veterinarian immediately diagnosed the symptoms as being connected to marijuana poisoning.
“ every single symptom was the same as marijuana poisoning,” Wilson said.
Pepper was treated with charcoal to induce vomiting, as well as an IV infusion for about 14 hours.
Wilson said the bill was around $800.
Dr. Jocelyn Forseille, the assistant registrar for the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, said Monday that since marijuana was legalized in 2018, cases of marijuana poisoning in dogs have gone up.
“There’s been an increase in the number of accidental ingestions, especially dogs. Cats seem a bit more finicky about what they put in their mouths.
“Unfortunately dogs, especially if they’re low to the ground, they can pick something off the sidewalk or bush before you’re even aware.”
Forseille added that dogs are extremely sensitive to the effects of marijuana and it can be hard to predict how the animal will react.
“It just highlights how toxic it can be,” she said. There’s such a variation on how much THC, which is the toxic component to dogs, is in each compound.”
Forseille added that dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than other animal species, including humans.
While most dogs don’t die from the poisoning if they are treated, owners should be careful with both their own supplies of marijuana and keeping an eye out when in public spaces.
“If you have cannabis in your home, make sure it’s not accessible to kids and dogs,” Forseille said.
Wilson said the family is sharing the story because they want people to know how dangerous even a small amount of marijuana can be for dogs.
“I don’t think people are maliciously out there trying to harm animals or dogs,” she said. “I think that they’re careless, and just kind of casually tossing the butts of their joints.
“Dogs are a part of the family and no one wants to lose their animal.”
Wilson said she has put up posters in the community hoping to warn others about the risk to dogs when it comes to discarded joints, and is speaking to local marijuana dispensaries in hopes they can help educate buyers.
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