It is as gross as it is alarming.
Two pet owners in Squamish say their dogs recently fell ill after eating human poop containing THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Last week, Carolyn Brown took her dog, Dusty, for a walk along the dike in Valleycliffe. At John Hunter Park, Dusty bolted into the bush next to the field. Brown didn’t think much of it at the time, she said.
Later, Dusty was acting strangely.
“Wobbly walking, jittery, peed her bed and wouldn’t eat her food,” Brown recalled.
Brown rushed Dusty to her vet at Eagleview Veterinary Hospital. Tests showed THC in Dusty’s system.
“She stayed overnight at the vet’s home on intravenous and was much better the next day, but still very tired,” Brown said.
Chris Charpentier had a similar experience with his dogs, Kiva and Cayoosh.
“Heads up! Both our dogs were at the emergency vet tonight. Both are OK. They found some human poop to eat in the forest today between the dike and the south end of Westway [Avenue],” wrote Charpentier on a Valleycliffe Facebook forum.
Veterinarian Melanie Armstrong, of Eagleview hospital, told The Chief the clinic has had three confirmed cases of drug toxicity from human feces ingestion.
“But there are some that we aren’t able to test, but have the classic signs of marijuana toxicity from an unknown origin.”
Armstrong said dogs eating human feces can be a big problem in Squamish, especially during summer months when we have a lot of visitors on our back roads.
Feces pose a health risk to dogs and humans due to bacteria, parasites and drug residues, she added.
“We also see multiple cases daily of dogs that have vomiting and/or diarrhea from ingesting unknown substances on walks and some of these are likely linked to human feces ingestion.”
According to Armstrong, dogs won’t generally dig up human feces, so if they are getting into it, it’s because people are not appropriately burying or covering it.
Symptoms of THC ingestion include depression, lack of co-ordination, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures and coma, according to a post on Squamish’s Apenlofts Veterinary Hospital’s website.
Symptoms can develop within 30 to 90 minutes after exposure and can last up to 72 hours.
THC seems to impact dogs more than humans, though even for pets, death is rare.
The most common source of exposure is through ingestion of a pet owner’s marijuana supply, according to a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.
Owners should contact their veterinarian right away if poisoning of any kind is suspected.