Paw-t smoking

Dogs under the influence of pot may simply lie asleep at irregular hours

Lily is an energetic dog. At three months old, it was abnormal for her to sleep for three solid hours in the middle of the day. That was the first sign that something was off. The second was that, when owner Daniel Guhl woke her, she was wobbly on her legs. Disoriented enough that Guhl took her immediately to All Paws Veterinary Clinic. From there, he said the diagnosis came pretty quick.

“The vet took one look at her and asked, ‘Is there any weed in the house?’”

There wasn’t, but as Guhl thought back over the course of the day, he remembered catching Lily on a walk with something ashy in her mouth. At the time, he thought it was the butt end of a firework. In light of her behaviour, it seemed more likely she’d scored herself a roach. At the time, it wasn’t funny. Only in retrospect, now that Lily’s ok, can Guhl see the humour in it.

“I thought she might develop the munchies or something,” he said, laughing. “She was asleep and would wake up and look like she was on a boat she was so shaky. Her motor skills were so slow. She would look at you and almost not realize you were there.”

Guhl said the vet was good about it. That they told him not to worry—that there’s been an increase, since legalization, in the number of pets being brought in high. Kim Friedenberg, with Alpine Veterinary Clinic, said he did an informal poll of the six staffers and found that a third of them think there have been more stoned dogs brought in since weed was legalized last October. Others aren’t sure, or think it’s gotten better.

“One person did mention the containers it’s supplied in are more dog-proof than a plastic baggie,” he said. “So there’s that.”

Friedenberg said signs and symptoms of a weed-eating woofer include much of what Lily experienced. Often, dogs sway, have trouble walking, or can’t even stand up. Sometimes they’ll drool or have dilated pupils. They can also pee themselves and simply lie in it because they lose control and have no idea what’s going on. He said he didn’t notice people being particularly cagey about the issue before legalization and would urge people not to feel embarrassed or self-conscious about it now. There’s patient-client confidentiality, he said, so it’s not like your vet is going to run off and narc on you for being a bad dog-owner.

As well, he said, the test for determining weed intoxication is pricey and not incredibly reliable. If you suspect they ate weed, telling your vet can save time and expense, so you can get down to the business of treating your pet. Often, this includes simply supporting the symptoms, said Friedenberg. Often that’s a case of rehydrating them, which could include being on an IV if the dog is extremely dehydrated.

“It’s always a good idea to bring them in and get checked out,” Friedenberg said. “Or just call us and we can decide from there.”

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