Recreational drug intoxication is a common reason for pets to be brought into the ER. They are often showing neurologic signs, such as loss of balance, wobbliness and acting drunk. Other symptoms can include lethargy, weakness, urinary incontinence, and flinching as though in pain. There is a long list of many different diseases and medical problems that can cause these types of neurologic signs. The most common reason we see young, otherwise healthy pets being brought into the emergency room for these symptoms is intoxications. Where we live, the most common intoxication is recreational drug intoxication. The most common recreational drug dogs test positive for is marijuana/THC, but we do see urine drug tests positive for other drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, opioids/fentanyl and MDMA).

There are other toxins besides drugs that can cause neurologic signs, including antifreeze/engine coolant (a deadly toxin that requires immediate intervention), certain essential oils (even a small amount of tea tree oil applied to the skin of a dog or cat can be lethal), rodent/insect poisons, and medications. There are also many other medical problems that can cause neurologic signs (including meningitis, strokes, brain tumors, and problems with other organ systems like the heart).

It is always best to see your vet (or an emergency vet clinic) right away if you are noticing neurologic signs. Some patients may need to undergo additional testing or hospitalization. Sometimes, referral to a neurology specialist may be needed. Remember to keep all drugs, poisons, toxins and medications out of reach of pets and children.

All of these pets made a full recovery. It was a scary situation for their families. They didn't even know that this could happen. We are thankful to all of these cute patients and and their family for helping us to teach other puppies about this danger.

Helpful Resources:
-ASPCA Animal Poison Control: Hotline: (888) 426-4435

-Dogs on Drugs (From Marijuana to Cocaine):

-Antifreeze Poisoning- The Green Puddle Beneath Your Car

-OTC (Over-The-Counter) Medications:



-USA: National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
-CANADA: Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction 1-833-235-4048 (directory by province)

-WHO Information sheet on opioid overdose:
-CDC Opioid Overdose:

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