An Ottawa dog owner has warned members of the public to be aware of the signs of THC poisoning in dogs after her own puppy became seriously ill after the puppy accidentally consumed cannabis in a public park this week.
Sharon Cook first noticed that there was something wrong with her puppy, Walter, when he seemed unusually tired during their walk in Riverain Park, Ottawa. The 5-month-old pup collapsed asleep on the ground and had to be carried home. Shortly after, Cook says he fell into a “coma-like” sleep, and starting convulsing when she tried to wake him up.
Speaking to the Ottawa Sun, Cook said “I realized something was really wrong. He threw up all over me, peed on me, then threw up again. The whole thing was terrifying.”
Walter was instantly taken to the Ottawa Animal Emergency and Specialty Hospital, and Cook was surprised when staff immediately asked her if she was a cannabis user. The vet told Cook that animals becoming sick from ingesting cannabis was an increasingly common problem since its legalization in Canada last year.
The vets at the hospital confirmed that Walter had suffered THC poisoning, which is a toxic reaction to the chemical component in cannabis that makes humans high. While pets don’t often die from THC toxicity, they are significantly more sensitive to it than humans, and a small amount can make them dangerously ill.
After a terrifying ordeal and a pretty hefty $700 veterinary bill, Walter is recovering well, however Cook now wants to warn other dog owners and cannabis users to be careful in public places.
Cook is still unsure exactly what it was that Walter ate, but her best guess is that it was the end of a joint or cannabis edible that had been left on the ground. Although Walter walks with a leash, Cook said “his head is always in the ground. That stuff could have been strewn anywhere.”
Following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association said that the most common symptoms of THC poisoning to be aware of are sleepiness, wobbling, inappropriate urination, dilated pupils, vomiting, fast or slow heart rates and low body temperatures. Symptoms usually start within an hour or two of ingestion.
This is the second case of an animal consuming cannabis in a public place reported in Ottawa since legalization, after a Manotick couple's dog became ill in October, also from suspected pot toxicity. There are also several online reports that the problem is worsening in other areas of the country, too.
Cook has asked all recreational users to be especially careful with how they dispose of their leftover marijuana. While Walter the puppy is now recovering, albeit, at a sleepy-rate, Cook says that “the idea of losing him was awful.”
Disclaimer: Cover photo is used for illustrative purposes only.