(Contributed)                                River, a five-month-old Australian shepherd, couldn’t walk after being exposed to THC.

(Contributed) River, a five-month-old Australian shepherd, couldn’t walk after being exposed to THC.

Lower Mainland pup poisoned by pot on dike

Five-month-old River was unable to walk.

Kim Marosevich took her three dogs for a long walk on Wednesday morning before work, and when it was over, her five-month-old Australian shepherd couldn’t take a step without falling over.

Marosevich, a Pitt Meadows resident, knew something was wrong with the pup, River. She is a former SPCA manager who now works with the City of Surrey bylaws department.

“He was very wobbly, and fell over when he got off the dog bed,” she said. “I was terrified.”

She took the dog to her veterinarian in Aldergrove, who ran urine tests and found it was positive for THC.

“I was angry. A little relieved it wasn’t worse, but angry people have this casual entitlement about disposing of their waste.”

Marosevich wants to make people aware that discarding even a small amount of pot can make an animal sick. She took the dogs on the dikes along Neaves Road, and noted the presence of a garbage can.

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She said the vet encouraged her to leave the dog in his care for the day.

“It was pretty dramatic, with him not able to stand on his own.”

Marosevich was stuck with a vet bill, but relieved when over the day the pup became bright and alert again.

“Don’t think that because it’s pleasurable for people to use that it’s not going to be a negative experience for a dog,” she said, adding that a joint sometimes contains more than just pot.

She is considering a basket muzzle for the dog when she is out in public, “as an extra piece of insurance.”

Local veterinarian Adrian Walton said this “pot dog” scenario gets replayed at least monthly at Alouette Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge.

“We get pot animals all the time,” he said. “Dogs and cats – they love the stuff. For dogs, it’s their catnip. They will find your baggy.”

With legalization of marijuana in Canada, he said people no longer feel compelled to fib about whether their pet might have ingested their pot.

Walton said the symptoms are obvious to vets, and he describes them as severe depression or “in a stupor.”

Since pot is no longer illegal, pet owners are more willing to admit it might be the cause of their pet’s symptoms.

“What we’re finding is people are being more honest now.”

That’s important because it helps a vet quickly get to the correct treatment – firstly, to induce vomiting. There is a short window of time to flush a dog’s stomach, said Walton.

He added that he has never yet seen a “pot dog” die, although he has had to give them oxygen. And said he would worry about a risk of damage to their livers, particularly for puppies and small breeds.

Marosevich said she is even worried about the possibility of brain damage, with her pup getting exposed to a strong dose of a psychoactive drug.

Walton noted marijuana is potent in small doses. Consider two 90-kilogram adults might consume a gram and feel strong effects, so even the roach, or butt, could have a dramatic effect on a three-kilogram dog.

“You’ve just got to think of the scale,” he said.