Dog's experience with marijuana prompts woman to caution others

The dog ate an edible off the ground in Highlands Ranch, owner says


Holly Hilborn wants others to be aware of pet marijuana intoxication after her beloved pup, Lily, likely ate an edible off the ground at a Highlands Ranch park.

Hilborn knew something wasn't right when her normally energetic, 2-year-old Labrador retriever was lethargic, having trouble standing and experiencing tremors and urine incontinence after a March 30 visit to Kistler Park, 9603 Burntwood Way.

They walk the loop regularly, but this time Hilborn's dog ate something off the ground, buried under the snow.

“She swallowed whatever it was so quickly, and eats things off the ground a lot,” Hilborn wrote in a March 31 post to the Highlands Ranch community on a Facebook page. “We didn't think much of it.”

That day Hilborn took her dog to VRCC, an emergency vet hospital in Englewood. A copy of the discharge summary provided to Colorado Community Media reads: “Based on Lily's clinical signs, we strongly suspect Lily got into marijuana or THC (the active ingredient).”

Hilborn left the vet frustrated, angry, she said. She and her husband, who both work in the health care industry, never use marijuana, she said.

Her dog — which made a full recovery — started experiencing symptoms pointing to marijuana intoxication two hours after the walk at the park, Hilborn said. Other symptoms in pets can be dilated pupils or glazed-over eyes, a dazed expression, difficulty walking and vomiting, according to Pet Poison Helpline,

The helpline has seen a 448 percent increase in marijuana cases since the substance was legalized in several states, according to its website.

Signs of toxicity can occur anywhere from five minutes to 12 hours after the animal is exposed to marijuana and last 30 minutes to several days, depending on the dose ingested, according to the helpline.

Local officials say Hilborn's experience is isolated.

The Highlands Ranch Metro District, which owns Kistler Park, hasn't heard of any experiences like Hilborn's happening at its 26 parks in the community, according to Kari Larese, community relations coordinator.

Sgt. Jeff Miller said that to the best of his knowledge, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has not heard of similar incidents happening.

Most of the residents who commented on Hilborn's Facebook post were empathetic — some even noted similar experiences with their pets. A few shared their support for CBD oil, a cannabis product without the same psychoactive component as marijuana that is said to help ailments in pets.

Hilborn's advice for others:

"If you or your family enjoy edibles please keep them responsibly in your home so our pets and children are not at risk of being significantly injured from a simple walk around the park,” she wrote.


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