"Can we have a stability check in the lobby for a little dog who is in shock and has a broken leg?"
The page rang throughout the veterinary hospital during the rainy evening. I couldn't help but wonder if it was going to be the start of many animals being rushed in after being hit by motor vehicles, but this one was a little bit of a surprise. My technicians and I were expecting to find a pale, barely moving dog with pieces of bone sticking out of his leg. None of that was present. In fact, the patient looked a bit depressed all right but not from shock. His pupils were dilated and he could barely stand let alone walk without stumbling, bobbing and weaving around like he was drunk.
A smile slowly spread across my face as I looked into the adorable white dog's fully dilated pupils and asked my tech to ask a few more key questions of the pet owner. The most important being did they have any recreational drugs in the house that their "baby" could have ingested. Marijuana was my first guess and the correct one. Of course the owners swore there was no possible way that their dog got into that. They had so little in the house. If I only had a nickel for every time I heard that or the outright denials that they have it in their home, I would have retired ten years ago!
Marijuana ingestion by pets is a very common presentation at our veterinary hospital. Even my brand new receptionists can pick up on the tell tale signs right off. In this particular case, the owner rushed in and said her pooch fell off the bed and broke his leg. She ASSUMED that's what happened. She came home to find him staggering on the floor near the bed and thought he fell. Being dazed and confused is a bit like what most folks would think was shock symptoms, so I can see why she thought what she did. After first being relieved that her pet was in fact not in shock, nor did he have anything broken, she switched to being a little put off that we would suggest that her dog was high. In these cases, trying to keep a straight face while they stutter and stammer and come up with any other excuse other than the truth, can be rather difficult to say the least. I usually end up losing the battle and outright giggle.
Reassuring them repeatedly that we are in no way saying that they are using the stuff, just that the dog has had some access, most people will take a few minutes and then admit that the weed "belongs to a friend." I do love the clients that come right into the room and admit right off that their animal ate their stash. Makes for a quicker admittance to the hospital for IV fluids, activated charcoal and overall monitoring while the pet goes through a "detox." My favorite was a very shy man who called me into an exam room to speak in private. He had a brownie package in his hands. He admitted that he had baked his prescription marijuana into the brownies. He burned the batch so he threw them out. His dog got into the trash and ate more than half of them. This was very important to know. Marijuana toxicity is easily remedied, but chocolate toxicity takes more doing and more medications to control seizures that can occur.
This brings to mind another story. Practicing here in Northern California I get all kinds of people walking into our clinic and they all fascinate me. One woman in particular though...well, let's just say I wanted to shake her a bit. She brought in her dog who had ingested a brownie that was given to her by a friend. It was one that was purchased at the "pot stores" or so she said. On further inspection, it was one that was make with dark chocolate, the most toxic for dogs, marijuana and, wait for it...magic mushrooms. While explaining to her what we needed to do, she kept rushing me and wanted to just sign the estimate and go. She was late for a function. Turns out she was heading out to the Burning Man celebration and didn't want to miss her ride and she was a bit ticked that her dog had eaten the brownie she was supposed to take with her to enjoy there. Can you see why I wanted to shake her a bit?
Another case involved a wee little Mini Pin puppy. She was brought in so stoned, that she could barely hold up her head, was very sensitive to noise, fully dilated pupils and dribbling urine everywhere she staggered. The whole family was present in the exam room when I went in to tell them that their puppy was high. The Mom shot daggers at her kids who launched into lightning fast denials. Everyone was talking fast and loud except Dad. He just kept quiet with his eyes down on the floor. I waited until I could get a word in and asked him if he had anything to say. He said no. "I don't smoke my weed in the house. I go outside and the puppy is inside." I asked him if he picked her up and carried her around all the time. He admitted that. "She's my baby. She wants to be with me all the time. I barely get in the house and she is jumping up into my arms." In this case, the barely two pound puppy was getting a major contact high from Dad. Needless to say there was no more smoking the weed around that puppy again!
The take home lesson here, lock up your stash people! What you do with it on your own time as an adult is your business, but when you walk into my hospital with a pet that is high as a kite, I am going to grill you a bit and the medical evidence doesn't lie. You can say it's not yours all you want, doesn't matter one bit to me. I just need all the information to treat your pet to the best of my ability. You provide that, and we are good to go!