A popular off-leash dog area in Port Moody is being flagged as a possible danger zone for pets after a retriever was sickened from eating marijuana laced with barbiturates.
On Saturday night, Holly Gracey noticed her dog, Bijou, shaking, weaving and urinating a few hours after returning from a walk along one of the forested trails in the popular west-side park.
Gracey rushed the eight year old retriever mix to the Central Animal Emergency Clinic in Coquitlam where a blood test confirmed that Bijou had consumed both marijuana and barbiturates.
“Bijou had to undergo a night of terror as these drugs cause extreme agitation in dogs in amongst the acute and potentially chronic impact it has on a canine’s kidneys and liver and potential for long term neurological issues,” said Gracey in an email to the Tri-City News.
This isn’t the first time Bijou has consumed marijuana dropped on the ground; it’s happened at Ioco Townsite and on Buntzen Lake trails, and both times she required veterinary care.
But the addition of barbiturates has Gracey concerned of a new potential threat to pets. She’s also worried that people may be using marijuana laced with barbiturates to boost the effect of the drug without knowing it.
“If I was a kid and I was into smoking pot, I would want to know what I was smoking too. I want them to be careful not only for our dogs’ sake but for their own sake,” she said in an interview.
MORE CASES OF DOGS INGESTING TOXIC DRUGS REPORTED
Pets eating pot and getting sick is becoming more common and in recent years B.C. veterinarians have been warning about dogs ingesting toxic amounts of marijuana.
A spokesperson from the Central Animal Emergency Clinic said it’s not unusual to see other drugs, such as barbiturates, along with cannabis THC, revealed in a blood test.
However, she said the dog usually recovers after an overnight visit where the toxic chemicals are “flushed out” of their system.
While Bijou recovered, Gracey said she wants to warn others about the problem at Westhill Park because she’s “at her wits end” about what to do.
In posters she’s placing at the park, Gracey advises dog owners what symptoms to watch out for. She’s also warning people who use drugs at the park to carefully dispose of their litter.
“Pot has a smell that is extremely attractive to dogs and likely wild animals as well. They will eat it and they will get sick, and some will die. I am sure that the intent is not to do harm but just to get high. Just PLEASE be careful, for the sake of our four-legged friends,” her poster states.
VET CLINIC WARNS OF TWO TO THREE CASES A WEEK
Central Animal Emergency Clinic confirmed it gets gets two or three cases of THC poisoning in dogs a week, sometimes more.
A dog’s keen sense of smell can often get them in trouble, especially when out for walks in areas where kids are known to sneak a toke.
“They get attracted to this very easily because it’s a different smell to them, and they get their nose down and all of a sudden they get high on their own,” said Bassi. “It could be fatal if the ingestion is more than what they can handle because they don’t know how much to eat or not to eat,” he said.
Bassi advised owners not to go to areas known as places were people hang out and smoke. He also advised walking dogs in the daytime so owners can see if their pet ingests something.
Meanwhile, other communities are reporting dogs ingesting marijuana mixed with other drugs. In July 2020, the North Shore News reported an owner’s dog was found to have consumed a mix of marijuana and cocaine on a trail near Grouse Mountain.
Port Moody’s Gracey hopes once warned, people will change their behaviour and make Westhill Park's off leash trails safe for dogs.
MARIJUANA POISONING SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Here are the symptoms for marijuana poisoning according to the the website petpoisonhelpline.com,: “clinical signs [of marijuana poisoning] can be seen within minutes to hours depending on how the pet was exposed (inhalation versus ingestion). Classic signs of poisoning include:
• a dazed expression
• glassy eyes
• lack of coordination
• slow response times
• and dribbling urine.
Vomiting and drooling are also common, despite marijuana’s anti-nausea effects. Other signs include changes in heart rate, vocalization, neurological stimulation, hyperactivity, or coma.