Stoned dog's owner: mind your roaches

By James Peters
May 19, 2016 - 3:13pm Updated: May 20, 2016 - 12:21pm

KAMLOOPS — It sounds like the premise for a stoner comedy, but for Barb Alonzo, a baked dog is no laughing matter.

Alonzo and her family were recently camping near Roche Lake when she noticed her Weimeraner Boone acting strangely.

"He was lying on his blanket and he stood up and just kind of looked at me and was just wavering around," said Alonzo. "He looked like he was almost falling asleep and ready to fall over. He couldn't walk, and when he did walk, he'd kind of thump his paws."

Alonzo got a hold of Kamloops veterinarian Dr. Bruce Maricle, whose suspected diagnosis blew her away.

"He said that it's going to be one of two things. It was either going to be a tick - my dog is a Weimaraner, so it was easy to tell that he didn't have a tick on him - or he's ingested marijuana," said Alonzo. "I just couldn't believe it. I said, 'So my dog is stoned?' and he said, 'Oh yeah.'"

Alonzo believes campers at the neighbouring site were smoking marijuana, and left a butt, commonly known as a roach, on the ground.

For Maricle, an instance of marijuana toxicity wasn't a surprise.

"There's a lot more of it out there, and of course people just drop the butts like they used to drop cigarette butts, and for some reason, the dogs seem to like them," said Maricle. "Whereas it was really rare to see nicotine toxicity from eating cigarette butts, marijuana butts they like. If they find one, they just eat it."

"Before it was rare; we might see one a year. But in the last two or three years, it's climbed up to the point where I'm seeing two or three per month."

Maricle says marijuana toxicity can be serious or even lethal in small dogs, but a large dog can usually straighten up within a 24 hour window.

"The biggest thing that people notice is that the dog just kind of staggers around. Often, if you get them excited, they can look normal and start to bounce around. But as soon as you stop stimulating them, then they tend to go back down to head down and eyes closed and staggering and falling over."

The Trudeau government is moving toward legalizing marijuana in the coming months, and Maricle says that may make this awareness message even more important.

"People should be aware of it because if they do legalize it - and it certainly sounds like they will - then it may even become more common. Perhaps the people who are using it, maybe they could take a little more care with what they do with their butts."

Alonzo echoes that sentiment.

"I never would have dreamed that that was the cause of it. My dog was out for the rest of the night and it's frightening. I had no idea what was wrong with him. He couldn't stand. And then after about two hours, he just started to shake, and he was out for the rest of the night."

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