Footage of a “stoned” dog who became seriously ill after eating a cannabis edible found during a walk in Lancashire has been released to warn other pet owners about the drug’s effects.
The video shows Billy, a six-year-old spaniel-bichon frise cross, swaying back and forth with bloodshot eyes, clearly experiencing psychoactive effects.
Billy’s owner, Sarah Eccles, said that within two hours her pet had begun to have fits and was unable to stand up straight.
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Emergency vet Sian Smith told Ms Eccles over the phone to bring Billy in urgently, and by the time they arrived he had lost control of his bladder, was suffering tremors and his heart rate had slowed dramatically.
Ms Smith gave the dog an injection to induce vomiting, to try to get the drugs out, and inserted an IV line to provide him with fluids. Billy remained at Myerscough Veterinary Group overnight under the close supervision of a nurse.
“It was very frightening to see the effects of the cannabis on Billy,” Ms Eccles said. “He began twitching and fitting. He couldn’t stand up and even when he was sat on the vinyl flooring in the vets, his legs just splayed out.
“To other pet owners, just be vigilant. If unsure, seek medical advice immediately. The vet warned us that had we left it to linger – it had been over four hours since he had eaten the cannabis when we sought help – the outcome may have been very different.”
Ms Eccles wrote on Facebook that Billy “gulped down” a part of two chocolate cookies lying in the grass at her local park. She said she picked up one en route to the vets and returned later that night to dispose of the other.
She said the cookie was “laden” with cannabis, saying “the smell alone gave it away”, although there was no indication it had been tested to confirm its ingredients.
The psychoactive substance in cannabis is called THC. In very rare cases it can be fatal to dogs.
“Dogs have so many more cannabinoid receptors in their brain and throughout their body,” University of Alberta animal science instructor Connie Varnhagen told Phys.org, explaining that this sensitive network can be overwhelmed by THC.
“They can die from the overdose. People get high, dogs get poisoned.”
Ms Eccles said she decided to release the video of Billy to help other dog owners identify the warning signs for an animal that has ingested cannabis.
Ms Smith, the vet who treated Billy, said: “Cannabis can be really harmful to dogs and with baked goods, chocolate is toxic to them as well, so we would always advise owners to seek immediate medical attention.
“Treatment very much depends on how much they’ve eaten – and how long ago since they ate it. If it happened very recently, we can give an emetic injection to make them sick.
“But if it’s after a few hours, it will already be digested, and we have to explore supportive treatment options. It’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.”
The RSPCA’s chief veterinary officer Caroline Allen also emphasised the importance of getting to a vet quickly, saying: “The vet’s priority will always be the animal’s welfare, not where the drugs came from.”
“Dogs will always consume things they shouldn’t if it is in the home or while out on walks, so people should never leave things lying around in case of accidental ingestions. It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act if someone was to deliberately make their animal consume an intoxicating substance.”
In recent years, several products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, have been launched for pets, notably by Martha Stewart.
While CBD is often promoted as helping to relieve anxiety or physical pain in humans, it remains unclear what effect it could have on dogs.
Additional reporting by SWNS