Dog Survives Encounter With Abandoned Marijuana

With care, (Lily) golden retriever regains her health after eating abandoned marijuana. As most people know, dogs should never consume marijuana!
For days, it looked as if Lily wouldn’t make it, let alone chase a cat again. She had slipped into a comatose state, her tongue hanging out and her eyes vacant of that familiar excitement. A recent stroll along the Ellis Hollow Nature Trail had nearly turned deadly for Lily, an animated 6-year-old golden retriever. 
Lily was taken for a walk along the trail when she ran off the edge and voraciously started eating something in a dense brush (not out of the ordinary). Everything seemed normal until that evening, when the family noticed Lily urinating on the floor. Lily had a recent history of bladder infections, so Carole Erslev and her husband, Peter Woodbury, thought maybe their dog needed to be taken back to the veterinarian for more medication.

Later that night, Lily became unresponsive and had a stony glaze. Her head swayed back and forth. She couldn’t stand or walk and didn’t seem to care when the family cried out “Lily!” to get her attention. Carole and Peter decided this was an emergency and took Lily to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals.

After Lily was examined, the family was told she was “neurologically compromised.” Hospital workers asked, among other questions, whether the dog had gotten into marijuana. “We told them that we thought she had eaten something,” Carole said. On Friday morning, Lily’s hear rate slowed and she was worsening. “She was almost comatose and by the later morning she really was in a coma,” Carole said.

The family decided to find out what exactly Lily had eaten. Peter climbed down into the bush off the Ellis Hollow Nature Trail and pulled out a disc of plant material about 12 inches in diameter. It make Peter’s hands oily and it smelled awful, their 15 year-old daughter Maia remembered. Peter noticed a sizable chunk taken out, an indication of how much Lily had eaten.

The family had the mass tested. Toxicology reports determined that the plant matter contained THC, a component of marijuana. Veterinarian Joel Weltman, resident in emergency and critical care at Cornell University, took care of Lily during her most delicate period and said she had significantly decreased responsiveness because of what she had consumed.
“Usually we have a presumed diagnosis of marijuana toxicity, but with Lily, we had much more support,” he said. The material in Lily’s blood and stomach both tested positive for THC. It is unknown how many cases of marijuana toxicity veterinarians at Cornell have seen because the diagnosis is often presumptive, Weltman said.

With Lily deteriorating, the family made the difficult decision to pump their dog’s stomach because they saw on an X-ray that she was not digesting properly. Her breathing was now slower and it appeared she was slipping away.

“Even though there was a risk of her stopping breathing, she had to get her stomach pumped,” Carole said. Once her stomach pumped, she mad slight improvements, but still required oxygen. By Saturday, however, Lily appeared on the mend and by Monday she was able to go home. It was her sixth birthday and the Fourth of July.

“We were all thrilled,” Carole said. “That she had improved that much made everyone really happy because we didn’t think she would improve that quickly.” Weltman said marijuana toxicity can be fatal to dogs without medical care. Typically, though, dogs are not as adversely affected as Lily, he said. It is unknown whether Lily will have any lasting damage because of the amount of marijuana she ate, but she’s getting stronger each day.

“I’ve been in contact with the owners and it sounds like she’s made a full recovery,” Weltman said. Now, Lily’s parents are urging those who may use drugs to be more careful now with how they discard waste. “We wish we had been more vigilant. Dog owners should not assume that what their dog is eating in the woods is harmless,” Erslev said.

Recent Posts