Adrian Walton says about once or twice a month he and his colleagues at Dewdney Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge treat a sick dog that has ingested marijuana.
The veterinarian says the conversation with the owner of the sick dog often starts the same way.
Walton says when he thinks he’s dealing with a so-called “pot dog,” he asks the owner if the canine may have come into contact with marijuana.
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Oftentimes, owners insist there is no pot in their house.
“So we go back and induce vomiting, the dog vomits up pot and we go back to the owner and say, ‘OK, now would you like to tell us what this is?'”
Walton says dog owners are often not totally upfront with vets when it comes to pot ingestion, which can delay treatment.
“Quite frankly, we don’t care where the drugs came from. We just want to know what the drugs are so we know how to treat them.”
Some veterinarians say they’re seeing an increasing number of dogs sickened after ingesting marijuana, and are warning pet owners to take care as Canada prepares for cannabis legalization this year.
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Walton said he’s not sure that the planned legalization of marijuana could lead to more pets coming into his hospital.
But, he added, legalization could make his job easier since pet owners may be more likely to come clean, which will save vets from having to conduct expensive and time-consuming tests.
He says if they see a sick dog within three hours of eating cannabis, dogs generally will suffer minimal side effects. After three hours, treatments become more serious and costly.
It can cost as little as $50 to induce vomiting, while more aggressive treatments could cost upwards of $2,000.
Walton hopes that the legalization of pot will remove some of the stigma around cannabis, making it easier to treat dogs who are drawn to the green stuff.
“I call it the dog version of catnip,” he said. “They love the taste of it, they love the smell of it. If you have pot anywhere in your house, if it’s not secured, they’re going to find it.”
— With files from The Canadian Press