MDB is thrilled to welcome Dr. Amanda Glew to our team of bloggers! She’ll be helping answer your medical questions with Dr. Lissa in our “Ask A Vet” section as well as contributing personal pieces from her own experiences in practice. We love this first contribution and know you will too….
by MDB blogger and veterinarian Dr. Amanda Glew
It was 9 PM, and as we were trying to finish up after a long day, we received the call. A young dog with sudden onset of weakness, falling over and twitching. I reluctantly told them to come in, and while finishing completing files, thought about what it could be. Small seizures? Meningitis? Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hypocalcemia (low calcium) could also cause weakness and tetany, but the dog’s age and size did not correspond with the history. But as soon as the dog walked in, I knew.
It can be very delicate in a veterinary situation when you are examining a dog that you know is, basically, stoned. I mean, how do you ask without seeming judgemental? I remember one case where the owners were adamant there was no history of drugs, and were really upset with me that I even suggested it. So I now have developed what I think is a discrete way of asking – which usually starts out with something like “Well, your dog is showing neurological signs such as a slow pupil reflex, lower heart rate, decrease in blood flow return to her gums”. Which translates roughly to your dog is high. “My thought processes are meningitis – although she has no fever, and, you know, some sort of intoxication, like a recreational drug. Would there be any of those by the way in the household?”
I usually hold my breath at this point, as I either get blasted, or looks are darting forth between husband and wife, or teenager and parent, whatever the case. In this case, it was easy. The owner fessed up, and I reassured them that I preferred this since it in general is easier to treat- fluids to flush the system, Valium for seizures as they occur, oxygen if they go into respiratory difficulties. But they are better by the next day. Except of course for a large case of the munchies. Not to mention a large vet bill!
My most interesting experience with recreational drugs was when I was asked to perform a euthanasia on a long-standing client of Vanier College. We deal with all different levels of socio-economic standing, and this client, although he loved his dog dearly, could never maintain a job and cost was always a concern. Which was probably why he would see us at Vanier, where the students get to practice, and we give people a break with the charges. The dog had been with us for years, was suffering from cancer, and was in pain. So when asked to go to the house to do the dreaded task, we were happy to oblige.
Upon arrival, the distraught client who was bleary eyed with tears greeted us. But we soon realized, or should I say, smelled otherwise. We walked into an apartment, which was thick with smoke. In particular, the sweet, weedy sort of smoke of pot. My technician and I exchanged looks. I simply shrugged; we had a job to do. It is not for us to judge. The dog was almost out cold, and certainly was not in any pain. Except for a slightly reduced blood pressure, the injection was performed cleanly and the dog just went off to sleep. We left the place very solemnly, returning to our car. We both got a case of the giggles- you know, the type that you just can not stop. The more you say, shush, the more you laugh. The pee in your pants kind of giggling.
Somehow I made it home, and after devouring a tub of ice cream and polishing off a bag of chips, I realized that I too, was a little high. I had thought perhaps recommending a little marijuana to our clients to reduce stress before we euthanize. But after my experience, I realized that maybe it was not such a good idea….