British Columbia

Vet warns pet owners after husky poisoned by cannabis and possibly cocaine

A Coquitlam veterinarian is warning pet owners and cannabis users to take extra care, after he treated a Siberian husky for cannabis and possible cocaine poisoning.

Halo the husky began having convulsions soon after returning home from a run at SFU, owner says

Halo's brush with drug toxicity left him drowsy and apparently depressed, according to owner Kacy Wu, but he's recovering at home and improving, she said. (Kacy Wu)

Reports of pets being poisoned by cannabis have been on the rise since legalization in 2018, but it's very rare to hear of an animal ingesting cocaine, according to a Metro Vancouver veterinarian.

But it's possible that's what happened to a five-year-old Siberian husky named Halo on Saturday, Dr. Rajan Kansal says.

Halo was brought to Kansal's clinic, Maillardville Animal Hospital in Coquitlam, by his owner Kacy Wu after the dog began having strange symptoms.

Kansal said a urine test came up strongly positive for cannabis and slightly positive for cocaine.

"It wasn't 100 per cent confirmed, but we had suspicions that he had slight positivity for that, so that's how we treated for the positivity," said Kansal on Monday. "It could be the ingredient was there in a very low quantity."

Halo's misadventure began earlier that day when he was out running alongside Wu, who was cycling near Simon Fraser University.

About 20 minutes after they got home, Wu said the strange symptoms began. She said Halo began having convulsions, his hind legs wouldn't support his weight and he lay down, closing his eyes. Wu said his breathing became shallow and she had to carry him to the car to go to the vet's clinic.

"It's like he was paralyzed, like he couldn't function at all," she said.

'I was speechless'

When she heard the results of the urine test, Wu said she was shocked.

"I was speechless, like it's seriously like something that never came up in my mind," she said. "It sounds like something impossible."

The only source of the poisoning that Wu could think of, was something that Halo had gotten into while they took a break at the university. She went back to investigate and found what looked like crumbled remains of a brownie or chocolate cake.

Halo, a five-year-old Siberian husky, rests at home after being treated for poisoning involving cannabis and possibly cocaine on Saturday. (Kacy Wu)

Kansal said chocolate could also be harmful for dogs, depending on how much was consumed, and that, combined with the cannabis and possible cocaine further worried Wu.

"It's like a triple poison," she said. "I thought Halo could have died."

Halo was treated through the day at Kansal's clinic then brought to an overnight clinic, where hundreds of dollars in vet bills later, he was discharged on Sunday.

Pet access

Wu said on Monday that Halo seems to be doing better, but she's concerned about the long term effects of what he ingested.

She's going to try using a soft muzzle when she's out with the dog to make sure he can't get into anything suspicious on the street again.

For Kansal, this case was another reminder of how careful people need to be with cannabis or other drugs around animals.

"It's legalized for humans, but we need to understand it's not legalized for pets," he said of cannabis. "Now pets can have more access to these drugs than before."

He said people need to make sure their drugs are carefully stored and any leftovers are discarded properly.

Kansal said if you think an animal may have consumed cannabis or another drug, contact a veterinarian for treatment.

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