Vet warns dog owners about risks of THC after apparent poisoning at Red River Gorge

Posted at 3:47 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 13:39:56-04

(LEX 18) — A local veterinarian is warning dog owners about the dangers of THC poisoning after a foster dog nearly died about a week ago.

Ross and his foster mom, Danielle Lillie, were at Red River Gorge to participate in a volunteer trash clean-up day when Ross ate something he wasn't supposed to.

"Ross got into some trash and was eating some human feces," Lillie said.

She said she quickly pulled him away and that everything seemed normal until a couple of hours later while they were on a hike.

"His back legs stopped working," she said. "He lost muscle control so he was kind of falling all over the place. By the end, he wasn't able to walk anymore."

According to Lillie, she and a few friends had to carry the 50-pound dog about a mile out of the Gorge and they rushed him to Advanced Animal Care in Madison County.

There, Dr. Victoria Crabtree quickly figured out what was wrong. She said his symptoms most likely pointed to THC poisoning.

Those symptoms typically include dribbling urine, ataxia (wobbly on their feet and appear drunk), enlarged pupils, and acting fearful.

"He really could have died if he hadn't come here," Dr. Crabtree recounted.

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Since Dr. Crabtree started practicing about two years ago, she has seen dogs with apparent THC poisoning about once every month.

"It's becoming more accessible to humans and when it becomes more accessible to humans it becomes more dangerous to animals," she said.

Since it is illegal in Kentucky, however, she said some people are afraid to admit whether they know their dog got into some marijuana. But that can be dangerous.

"If they tell us, 'no, there's no way' and there is, I may think it's something more serious and they may end up euthanizing or choosing the wrong path," she said.

Therefore, she said it's best to be honest. She added that there should not be any fear that the vet will get the police involved.

"We're never going to call the police on you," Crabtree promised. "We're not even allowed to do that unless there is a danger to a pet and we know you're doing it on purpose."

According to Crabtree, being open and forthcoming will lead to better results, like what happened with Ross who is now healthy, and is close to finding a forever home.

Anyone who would like to donate to Ross's medical bills can do so here.