Missing Dog Found High on Pot Brownies

The Details

 Halloween Activities Create Greater Opportunities for Animals to Run Away

When your pet goes missing, panic sets in. Did someone take them? Were they hit by a car? Are they safe? For Jake Carrigan of Hutchinson, Minn., his missing dog story is more like an old Cheech and Chong comedy bit, except it could have had a tragic ending.

“I was at work and my brother texted me to ask if my dog Dozer had gotten out of the house,” Carrigan recalled. “I told him I had left him locked in the garage as usual, but he said someone had posted a picture of a lost dog on Facebook that looked just like Dozer, and that he may have been hit by a car. I had him send me the post, and I drove to where the person had seen the dog, but I couldn’t find him.”

Since he had to get back to work, Carrigan called his neighbor Jay, and asked him to open Carrigan’s garage door in case Dozer came back. The neighbor offered to go out and look for the dog as well, and after a little searching, he found him in a patch of tall grass by some trees. Dozer wouldn’t let Jay get close to him, so Jay sent Carrigan the exact location.

“When I found him, he couldn’t walk,” Carrigan explained. “He bit at my hand when I went to pick him up, which he would never normally do. I knew there was something wrong, so I immediately took him to our veterinarian.”

“When Dozer arrived at Lifelong Veterinary Clinic he couldn’t move his rear limbs, was dull and hypersensitive,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “Abdominal x-rays revealed that the stomach was full, so the medical team induced emesis and found about a pound and a half of what they determined was chocolate brownies that contained marijuana. Marijuana exposures have become increasingly more prevalent as more and more states legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana.  Clinical signs of marijuana poisoning include lethargy, weakness, ataxia, hypotension, bradycardia and urinary incontinence.  Although uncommon, some pets will display agitation instead of lethargy.”

“The veterinarian told me that after they emptied his stomach, the entire clinic smelled like a marijuana dispensary,” added Carrigan with a laugh. “The whole situation was weird. I don’t know if he snuck into someone’s house, or if someone fed him the brownies. Maybe they were cooling outside, and he helped himself. I asked my neighbor who I suspect might indulge in such brownies, and he said they didn’t come from his house.”

In addition to marijuana, the medical team needed to be concerned about chocolate poisoning.

“The severity of chocolate poisoning varies greatly depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested and the size of the pet,” explained Dr. Schmid. “Also, be aware that some chocolate products may contain other toxins such as macadamia nuts, raisins, coffee or expresso beans or xylitol. Ingestion in toxic amounts can result in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures. Death is possible, but rare if the pet receives prompt and appropriate treatment. Interestingly, dogs make up 95 percent of our chocolate calls.”

Dozer’s story is a cautionary tale of what can happen when a pet accidentally gets out of the house, which happens all too frequently during holidays. One of the greatest dangers facing your pet during the upcoming Halloween festivities is getting out of the house or away from trick-or-treating children, where they can get into other situations such as being hit by a car or being taken. Pet Poison Helpline has partnered with AKC Reunite, the nation’s largest not-for-profit pet recovery service, offering its 24/7 toxicology expertise as an optional, unlimited benefit for its members to add to their pet’s lifetime protection.

“According to our partners at AKC Reunite, lost pet reports are 10 percent higher than average in the month of October, which culminates with all of the Halloween activity,” said Schmid. “Pets get anxious from multiple trick-or-treaters coming to the door, and with each visitor you greet, your pet has an opportunity to sneak out and escape the chaos. A loose pet at night is especially dangerous because they cannot be easily seen by motorists.”

“With all the commotion that takes place during Halloween, there are multiple opportunities for your pet to escape outside. A microchip enrolled with AKC Reunite, along with a personalized collar tag, can help reunite your pet more quickly and get them off busy roadways,” said Dallas Harsa, vice president of Sales and Marketing at AKC Reunite. “It is best to prepare for the pet’s safety on Halloween, or any other time you are entertaining multiple guests, by being conscious of open doors and opportunities for pets to escape, or even setting up a quiet and secure space for your pet away from all of the activity.” While dogs tend to get the most attention during Halloween, cats are also in danger. AKC Reunite offers a list of Halloween recommendations for your feline family members.

Dozer is October’s Toxin Tails case of the month. Pet Poison Helpline created Toxin Tails to educate the veterinary community and pet lovers on the many types of poisoning dangers facing pets, both in and out of the home. All the pets highlighted in Toxin Tails have been successfully treated for the poisoning and fully recovered.


About Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline®, your trusted source for toxicology and pet health advice in times of potential emergency, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. We are an independent, nationally recognized animal poison control center triple licensed by the Boards of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Pharmacy providing unmatched professional leadership and expertise. Our veterinarians and board-certified toxicologists provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $85 per incident includes follow-up consultations for the duration of the case. Based in Minneapolis, Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.