After a phone call to their house guest, they were able to tell us that some cannabis had been dropped on the ground at their property and had subsequently disappeared. Given Izzy's presenting symptoms and the likely exposure, she was admitted to the clinic for the afternoon for monitoring of her heart rate and observation in case any further signs of toxicity might develop. Luckily for Izzy, she developed no further signs and went home happily with her owners the same evening.
Dogs have more receptors for cannabis in their brains than humans, meaning they are more susceptible to the effects of the drug. In dogs, symptoms usually begin developing thirty to sixty minutes after ingestion. Mild to moderate symptoms can also occur after inhalation of smoke and, because the drug is stored in fat, the effects may last for several days. Symptoms depend on the potency of the product and the amount of drug exposure. They include incoordination, lethargy, listlessness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, drooling, urinary incontinence and in severe cases tremor, convulsions and coma.
If dogs are known to have eaten cannabis and are presented to the clinic before becoming uncoordinated, we are able to induce vomiting to limit drug absorption and the development of symptoms.
Izzy's case highlights the importance of disclosing possible drug exposure when questioned. This can avoid unnecessary and costly diagnostics and hospital stays.
Dr Linda Sharp BVSc