ANGELES — The minute I saw Monte, I knew something was
year-old Havanese normally jumps up when he hears any of
us come home — deliriously happy, his body shaking,
tail wagging. But on this Saturday morning, he didn’t
even look up. He was lying on his favorite chair,
near-comatose, eyes glazed over.
my daughter picked Monte up, he began twitching as if he
were having a seizure. When she put him down, he tried
to walk, but dragged his hind legs. He couldn’t sit up
on his own.
was terrified that he’d had a stroke and was
paralyzed. Or was dying.
got to get him to the emergency pet clinic right
away," I told Elise.
packed up Monte and brought along his little brother,
Cristo, who seemed filled with anxiety. We figured
Cristo had known something was wrong because when we got
home, he was waiting for us by himself in the living
room. He led us right to Monte.
minutes later, we were at the San Gabriel Valley
Emergency Pet Clinic in El Monte, Calif. The
veterinarian, Leia Castaneda, was gentle and soft-spoken
as she examined Monte and asked whether he could have
gotten into the trash or open bottles of pills. The only
time he perked up was when my husband arrived — a good
sign that he could still respond, Castaneda said. She
took Monte to the back room for testing.
wasn’t long before the verdict was in: marijuana
and I looked at each other and burst into laughter. So
did our friends when they heard the story about our
doped-up doggy, stoned out of his mind.
what are you growing in your backyard?" one
up the Lays, he may still have the munchies,"
another friend Facebooked from Seattle.
official diagnosis was "THC ingestion," which,
it seems, has increased in pets along with the rising
number of medical marijuana prescriptions.
California became the nation’s first state to legalize
medicinal pot in 1996, 19 others and the District of
Columbia have followed suit. Four states are considering
in Colorado and my home state of Washington legalized
recreational use of marijuana last year. And late last
month, the federal government announced it would back
off from prosecuting most legal marijuana users in
states that allow it, fueling expectations that even
more states may allow pot.
five-year study found that such poisoning of dogs
quadrupled in Colorado after voters there legalized
medical weed in 2000. The Oregonian in April reported
cases in the Pacific Northwest were on the rise. And
veterinarians here say they frequently see ingestion
Castillo, an emergency veterinarian technician at an
Eagle Rock, Calif., clinic, said he usually treats two
or three stoner dogs a night.
see a lot of cases where dogs have been walking in the
park and then become lethargic, shaky and
disoriented," Castillo said. "Their owners
bring them in and are freaked."
said she started noticing an uptick in cases at her
clinic about 2007. Nearly all have involved dogs —
cats are more discerning, she said — that have picked
up discarded joints, blunts or buds, gulped down
marijuana brownies, even licked resin off pipes.
man, who asked for anonymity to protect his family, said
his dog ate an entire batch of his son’s hash
brownies. The normally healthy, playful pup began
falling over one night. Her eyes were rolling, her
breathing was labored and she began drooling
uncontrollably, he said. After they rushed her to the
emergency pet clinic, the dog’s heart began to shut
down. The vet gave her adrenaline and, after three days,
she was good as new.
try to think of it as being funny, but my dog was
dying," he said. "I have no issue with
marijuana — I think the laws against it are stupid and
it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco. But
people are being less careful with it, and pets are
suffering for it."
dogs recover, but some do not. Castillo said one Jack
Russell terrier died after ingesting a huge amount of
pot even after he vomited up "tons of it." The
Colorado study reported two dogs that died after eating
marijuana-laced butter, a particularly dangerous
for Monte, he recovered after spending the night in the
hospital with an IV drip to flush the toxins from his
system. The bill came to $730 for the exam, lab testing,
radiographs, toxicology screen, catheter, fluids and
hospitalization. Another man who brought his dog in the
same day with a similar condition told the staff he
couldn’t afford such fees and walked out with his sick
said some dogs can recover on their own, but it depends
on the severity of the poisoning.
urged pet owners who use weed to stash it away. She also
asked people to be candid about the possibility that
their dog may have eaten marijuana. Some don’t want to
admit it, she said, leading occasionally to tense
not the cops," she said. "We’re here to help