One of the harmful consequences of the human use of illicit drugs is the unintentional exposure of pets.  A pet's exposure to cocaine can be deadly.

  • Cocaine is a powerful and addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain
  • It is derived from coca leaves
  • It is the second most common illicit drug that is abused worldwide
  • It is most commonly used illegally but is sometimes used medicinally as a local anesthetic
  • In humans, cocaine accounts for nearly 50% of emergency room visits associated with drug misuse or abuse
  • Also Known As: Coke, Crack, Blow, Snow, C, Flake

Poisonous to dogs and cats

  • The drug acts on the sympathetic nervous system, preventing the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine by the central nervous system
  • Leads to feelings of euphoria, restlessness, and increased motor activity
  • A lethal oral dose for dogs is estimated to be between 26 and 52 mg/kg


  • Diagnosis of cocaine toxicity in pets is highly dependent on the knowledge or history of exposure

Clinical signs 

Neurological abnormalities are common. Some of the more common signs of cocaine toxicity in pets include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity and abnormal reflexes
  • Ataxia (wobbly gait)
  • Muscle tremors
  • Depression or mental dullness
  • Seizures

Other signs that can be seen include: 

  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • In severe cases of exposure - coma and/or death


With care by a veterinarian, most patients have a good prognosis and can be successfully treated through to discharge from the veterinary hospital. Treatment may include:

  • Decontamination of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Sedatives or anti-anxiety medications
  • Anticonvulsants to treat seizures
  • Body temperature regulation
  • Supportive care (intravenous fluids and electrolytes)