Illicit drug 3: Cocaine or crack cocaine
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Cocaine is sold in two solid forms: powder or crystal. The white powdered form is commonly called coke, C, or blow, and people usually snort it or dissolve then inject it intravenously. Cocaine can be processed into a solid form called crack. Crack is a more potent form of cocaine and is typically smoked. It’s often sold in small “rocks” weighing from 0.1 to 0.5 g. The price of crack ranges from $10 to $40 per rock. A kilo (2.2 lbs) of cocaine can cost more than $15,000.
Cocaine and crack are potent neurologic stimulators (“uppers”). When snorted or smoked, they cause immediate and intense highs in people. Cocaine is well absorbed across the oral or nasal mucosa. Thus, a pet that sniffs a table where cocaine was used may inadvertently inhale enough to cause poisoning.
Cocaine and crack primarily affect pets’ brains and hearts. Early signs of cocaine intoxication include hyperactivity, dilated pupils, twitches or tremors, seizures, and death. Common cardiac signs include tachycardia (rapid heart beat), hypertension (elevated blood pressure), and cardiac arrest. Life-threatening hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) is also common. The dose needed to cause poisoning in a dog or cat is very small and all exposures to cocaine are emergencies and need veterinary evaluation.
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