What is Cocaine Poisoning?
Canines who work in the field of drug sniffing and drug location can sometimes be exposed to cocaine which can lead to toxicity. Owners who leave the drug within their dog’s reach will expose them to a danger that can lead to an emergency situation as the heart and the brain are typically affected to a great degree within 30 minutes of ingestion or inhalation. The fact that illicit drugs like cocaine are often diluted with other harmful substances adds to the poisonous effects felt by dogs who come into contact with cocaine.
The cocoa plant is the origin of cocaine. This drug is capable of causing adverse reaction which involves multiple systems of the body including the central nervous system and the behavioral system. Panting, hyperactivity, and depression can be signs of cocaine poisoning, along with serious effects like seizures leading to death. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to cocaine or any other recreational or prescription drug, it should be considered an emergency.
When a canine is exposed to cocaine or other illicit drugs, whether accidentally or maliciously, poisoning can occur. Because of the nature of use of these drugs by humans and the reluctance to admit pet exposure, diagnosis is sometimes difficult to reach.
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Symptoms of Cocaine Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms related to cocaine poisoning in dogs are extensive. The blood plasma level for toxicity can be reached within minutes and toxic effects will be evident quickly in addition, because the substance is well absorbed by the mucosa of the mouth and nose.
- Tremors, shaking or seizures
- Rapid heart beat
- Increased breathing rate and difficulty breathing
- Drooping eyelids (ptosis)
- Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)
- Dilated pupil (mydriasis)
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated body temperature
- Increased physical sensitivity (hyperesthesia)
- Inability to relax muscles (myotonia)
- Uncontrolled movements (ataxia)
- Heart rate abnormalities
- Behavior changes like excitement, hyperactivity, circling and vocalization
- Abnormal tail movement and reflex
- Change in urine color
- Lung sounds (with severe poisoning pneumonia can develop)
Cocaine is sold in powder or crystal form and is often “cut” with other compounds like local anesthetics, decongestants, and xanthine alkaloids (stimulates). Documentation has been published about a seized shipment of illegal cocaine which was diluted with compounds including a deworming product. The uncertainty of what is contained in the cocaine can make diagnosis and treatment of canine cocaine poisoning symptoms difficult.
Causes of Cocaine Poisoning in Dogs
Cocaine can have a very small, controlled medical use. Typically, the use is an illicit one and most canines who have come into contact with the product do so accidentally. When a pet is brought to the veterinary clinic the main concern of the team will be to stabilize the pet, restoring him to health. Cocaine poisoning will cause issues in 5 main areas.
- Your pet’s behavior will become erratic, distressed and agitated
- The temperature control within your dog’s body will be disturbed allowing for dangerously high temperatures to occur
- The central nervous system disturbance will cause complications like vomiting and loss of muscle control
- The circulatory system can cause changes in pulse and heart rate
- Your dog’s respiratory system may be affected by changes in breathing rate
Diagnosis of Cocaine Poisoning in Dogs
The reluctance of some pet owners to admit the illicit drug use that allowed for access of cocaine to the family pet can sometimes hinder the diagnosis. However, pet owners must realize that the first priority of the veterinarian will be to stabilize and prevent the demise of the animal. Clinical signs could be severe enough that the veterinary team will need to admit your pet to the hospital right away to begin treatment. In pets who have a case of poisoning that is less severe clinical signs, bloodwork, and urinalysis may reveal the nature of the poisoning. In addition, if your pet is vomiting, an evaluation of the stomach contents can point to the source of the toxin.
Because cocaine poisoning can result in the death of your pet, complete transparency is the best option. If you are able to provide the amount inhaled or ingested, the approximate time of the incident, and the length of time since the symptoms of cocaine poisoning became apparent, these factors will help the veterinary team to decide on the best treatment for your dog. Whether your pet has been vomiting, exhibiting serious behavioral changes, or has shown neurological signs that indicate the severity of the toxicity, are all crucial pieces of information for the veterinarian to work with.
Treatment of Cocaine Poisoning in Dogs
Cases of cocaine poisoning will most often result in hospitalization because the effects to the body are so numerous. If your canine companion is not vomiting, the veterinarian may choose to induce emesis and administer active charcoal to bind the drug to the stomach contents, and in addition to this, give a medication that will encourage emptying of the bowels. However, vomiting can be induced only if your pet is somewhat stable. If his symptoms indicate this therapy would be unsafe (for example if your pet is seizuring or is having respiratory difficulties), then the treatment will begin with sedation and administration of medication by intravenous.
Many canines will require medication to control seizures (such as diazepam) and in some cases, convulsions will need to be controlled by anticonvulsant drugs. Once your dog is sedated and is in an improved state of health, gastric lavage may be done to flush out the stomach contents. Your pet could be hospitalized for several hours to several days, contingent upon the poisoning. Your dog will require monitoring of his body temperature; cocaine is known to make the body react with dangerously elevated temperatures. Metabolic abnormalities, blood pressure, heart rate, and neurological signs will need to be normal also before the team can consider releasing your pet from the hospital.
Recovery of Cocaine Poisoning in Dogs
The prognosis for pets who are seen by the veterinarian for cocaine poisoning can be good as long as the ingestion was not a massive overdose and prompt therapy was sought out promptly. Your pet will need a quiet place to rest at home and may take a few days to return to his normal state of behavior and health. Provide a quiet place for him to rest, with plenty of water available. Accompany him on light leashed walks and call the veterinarian if you have any concerns about his recovery. Be certain to keep all medications, household products, and dangerous substances out of the reach of your pet.
Cocaine Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog was exposed to cocaine at one point a few months ago. This was from licking residue off of my friend's hands when he was sleeping. We sought out veterinary help and they gave him black charcoal. He is fine and his normal self but I still worry if he'll experience any type of complications later in his life as he did ingest the residue as of a year old. I'm also curious if I changed who he is because of that experience.
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My 3lb Min Pin puppy got exposed to cocaine poisoning. I caught her sniffing something on the floor and trying to eat it. I immediately ran to her and couldn't find anything in her mouth. Minutes later she started running around, doing twists and flips. She then started falling over, and became very hyperactive. I gave her water and she started drinking so much. Her gums were red. She then was walking in circles. At this point I didn't know what happened so I went to my roommates room, and found that she had been doing cocaine in the kitchen earlier. I asked her if she dropped any and she replied no. I then went to investigate and found flakes of cocaine where my puppy had been earlier. The size of the biggest one I found was smaller than even my pinky nail. I immediately fed my puppy some food, gave her lots of water and pedalyte. I held her for 6 hours while she convulsed, vomited, swung her head around, and became aggressive and crying. I even gave her some sovereign silver, to bind to the toxins and help flush them out. Now my question is, how long will these symptoms last? It's been 12 hours since the incident and she stopped vomiting. She can run and walk now, but occasionally her legs (back ones really) give out on her. Sometimes her head swings, and sometimes she's randomly aggressive and bites us. She's eating great, and drinking well. But she's not right in the head. She can't do commands anymore and it's like her impulsive control is gone and she has brain damage. How long will this last? What else can we do? We've kicked the roommate out last night, because I do not condone drugs. I would take my dog to the vet but I read online from people that they will arrest you and charge you with animal abuse and take your dog. I'm not going to jail or losing my baby over the dumb actions of an addict, so please help.
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My dog licked someone's nose who had done some cocaine but there was no residue present. He isn't showing any symptoms of being exposed. it has been over 3 hours and he still seems normal. He is a 36lb Chihuahua mix. Should I be worried?
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My pet of almost a year old got in posion we suspect it to be drug posion due to his behavior . Please advice i did not notice until i came from work it has been 6 hours and he is still going about it. He has vommited but refuse to drink or eat. He os a yorkie and i am desprate for qny advice as i can not take him to a vet.kind regard
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What is the effect of crack cocaine ingested by a small breed dog a bichan poodle mix. She had a seizure that lasted between 3&4 minutes. She looked lost and out of it after and went to sleep for a couple hours before starting to move around eventually she went outside to go to the bathroom came in and went back to sleep til this morning. My roommate is a crack addict and the two dogs are hers and she had her in the room for only like five minutes til I realized she was upstairs and I took her downstairs and she had a seizure within minutes of her coming down and she's not even taking the blame for the dogs seizure I know it was cocaine poiining I don't know what to do please help me by telling me I was right so I can show her what can happen with even a small amount of crack cocaine can do to a small dog .
Accidental ingestion or exposure of recreational drugs by pets is becoming a more common problem. The effects of cocaine on dogs are hyperactivity followed by depression (and possibly coma), tremors, disorientation, seizures, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate and fever. Veterinary attention is required as cocaine poisoning is a medical emergency and animals need to be medically stabilised. Death is usually caused by cardiac or respiratory arrest. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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