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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.

Cocaine Poisoning Average Cost

From 166 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,100

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.

  • Aggression
  • 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
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Drooling
  • Change in urine color
  • Lung sounds (with severe poisoning pneumonia can develop)

Types

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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cocaine Poisoning Average Cost

From 166 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,100

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Cocaine Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Boxer

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Five Months

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2 found helpful

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Hyperactivity

My dog licked the garage floor next to a car and there were some little cocaine rocks (I took one home because it looked like chalk but my bf thinks its cocaine) I don’t know how much there was before so I can’t tell if it was a lot or a little bit. He looks normal except that he is very actively chewing his bone. I am scared of falling asleep because I don’t want anything to happen to him. How long would it take for the symptoms to show?

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without knowing what or how much he ate, I don't know how long it would take for signs to show, but I would expect very quickly. You may need to stay up with him tonight to make sure that he is okay, at least until he falls asleep. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 31, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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One Year

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0 found helpful

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Hunger, Heavy Breathing, Manic

My dog is acting unusually hungry, hyper and out of character. She is very jumpy and undisciplined

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Without examining your dog, it is difficult to say what might be going on, whether it's something in the area that you are not aware of that is making her nervous, or whether she had a toxicity of some kind. If this Behavior continues, it would probably be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can

July 28, 2020

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Schnauzer

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Three Years

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Panting

My dog is just breathing heavily and pant fast. His nose is also warm

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- If your dog is panting heavily it could be due to pain, heart disease, pulmonary disease or potentially due to heat or anxiety. If he is displaying any other symptoms, he is unable to settle down, or he is displaying any evidence of difficulty breathing I would recommend taking him to the veterinarian immediately so they can do a work up on him. They can perform a full physical, a chest x-ray and blood work to assess for the cause of his symptoms. They will then be able to provide an appropriate treatment plan. I hope he feels better soon.

July 28, 2020

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Ra

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Chihuahua

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Hyperactivity

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?

June 17, 2018

Ra's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If Ra isn’t showing any symptoms, I would keep a close eye on him for the time being; onset of symptoms is normally fast so you would notice quickly. However you should visit your Veterinarian or an Emergency Veterinarian immediately if any symptom listed on this page presents. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 18, 2018

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Louis

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Australian Shepherd Dog

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1 Year

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Dilated Pupils

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.

Jan. 28, 2018

Louis' Owner

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3320 Recommendations

As far as I am aware there should be no long term effects on a dog from exposure to cocaine when treated swiftly and appropriately; if you are noticing some behavioural changes it may have been due to the overall experience rather than the cocaine itself. If you have concerns, you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination and a general check to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/toxicology/toxicities-from-human-drugs/toxicities-from-illicit-and-abused-drugs#v3353145

Jan. 28, 2018

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Duke

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Golden Retriever

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

My friend's dog grabbed an open bag of cocaine in it mouth while we were on a walk. I grabbed the dog's mouth before it could close on the empty bag, but it was still in the mouth to some extent. We took the dog around the bend 4 times for a half hour to see if there were symptoms that would occur. Nothing out of the ordinary happend. The dog is now sleeping in a "C" position and is breathing fine, but a little bit faster than the lab I have who is elongated in a steched out position and is also about 30 pounds heavier than the golden. Is this something I should be concerned about?

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Dom

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Pit bull

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5 Weeks

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Rapid Breathing

My 5 week old puppy licked some residue Cocaine on my friends key He’s eating and drinking water peed twice and pooped but is not seeming like himself and his breathing is not the normal breathing seems faster hasn’t vomited or hyperventilating but I’d jumping in his sleep with mild trembles highly scared

Cocaine Poisoning Average Cost

From 166 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,100

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