Rosie, a 3 year old female spayed Bernedoodle, came to see me when her owner noticed she was suddenly acting very bizarre. She was lethargic, having trouble walking, and dribbling urine on the floor.
On examination, she was depressed, had a low body temperature, was mildly ataxic (drunk-walking), had dilated pupils, a low heart rate, and was drooling slightly. She was also dribbling urine on the floor in the exam room as if she could not control her bladder. I immediately inquired about the possibility of exposure to marijuana in the home. The owner reluctantly told me that yes, there were edible marijuana products in the home and she might have had access to them earlier that morning. Rosie was showing classic symptoms of THC poisoning. The primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana is called delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Dogs are very sensitive to THC when ingested, inhaled, or even when absorbed through the skin with topical products. Thankfully, the effects of THC are self-limiting and do not typically require intensive treatments but can take several hours to subside.
The Treatment Plan
The main course of treatment is confinement so the pet does not become injured or fall since they have trouble walking. It is also important to maintain hydration to help the chemicals process through the body quicker. I gave Rosie some fluids under her skin to help with hydration and educated the owners on how to keep her safe and warm while the effects of the drug wore off. I also stressed the importance of keeping all THC products away from Rosie and all other pets in the home in the future.
When I checked on Rosie the following day, she was back to her normal self and her owner was very thankful for my help.
The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country; however, if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.