The number of pets poisoned by cannabis, where it is legal, is growing. Data collected in 2021 by veterinarians from the United States and Canada on poisonings with the herb show that these are not isolated cases. The study also found fatal cases, but noted that this does not mean they were caused directly by the herb. Most of the poisonings involve dogs and cats, however, there are also cases in parrots or horses. Here's more information.
The number of pets poisoned by cannabis is growing
The study, which was conducted in 2021, took place in the US in states where cannabis is legal and in Canada. It involved 200 veterinarians who reported cases of pets being poisoned by marijuana. Its results were published on April 20 by Plos One magazine
The growing number of cases of cannabinoid poisoning of animals is most likely due to the legalization of cannabis. However, this does not necessarily mean that the real number of poisonings has not changed very much - what has changed is the attitude of owners, who can now fearlessly admit that their pet has consumed an unwatched dried product left on the table, for example. Before the change in the law, such a confession could end in jail.
In the past, they could come with the same problem, but claiming they had no idea what had happened
- admitted study author Jibran Khokhar, an assistant professor at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Canada.
Veterinarians taking part in the study reported a total of 283 cases of marijuana poisoning. The vast majority involved dogs (226 cases); there were also 51 cats, 2 iguanas, 2 ferrets, a parrot, and a horse. The poisonings mostly occurred as a result of eating food products containing marijuana, the dried marijuana itself, and cigarette butts. In most cases, consumption was accidental.
Intentional administration, whether for medical or recreational purposes, cannot be ruled out either
- said Khokhar in an interview with CNN, in reference to social media posts confirming that such practices are taking place.
He added that marijuana is not used in veterinary medicine.
Commonly reported clinical signs of cannabis poisoning according to data collected from veterinarians: incontinence - 195, disorientation - 182, ataxia - 178, lethargy - 150, hypersensitivity - 134 and bradycardia - 112. The most common suspected cause of poisoning was food with THC - 116 cases. The most common route of exposure was ingestion, with 135 cases, while the most commonly cited reason for poisoning was unattended consumption, with 135 cases. Cannabis poisoning was most often diagnosed on the basis of supporting clinical symptoms - 229 cases, the most common treatment was outpatient monitoring - 182 cases, and outpatient treatment was 103 cases. Sixteen cases resulted in the death of a pet, but the study authors point out that it cannot be said with certainty that cannabis was the cause of death.
Many, especially cannabis users or patients, are surprised to learn that cannabis can harm their pets. This opinion comes from their own experience with cannabis and the knowledge that it has never physically harmed anyone. However, it is important to remember that animals have a primarily different metabolism than humans through which cannabis can have a much stronger effect. A confused and intoxicated pet doesn't know what's going on, doesn't know the reasons for such a state, and can get scared and hurt itself. Remember that not everything that can be consumed by humans - will be good for animals. For example, let's take chocolate - it won't do any harm to a human, but to a dog it already can, and a lot.
The vast majority of the pets described in the study fortunately recovered completely, in some cases they spent 24-48 hours in the clinic for observation. Although 16 fatalities appeared in the study's results, it was acknowledged that the direct cause of death is uncertain.
The study aims to develop drugs to undo the effects of marijuana poisoning at home, without the need for costly monitoring of the animals' condition at the clinic. Before that happens, however, the researchers still want to study the effects of overdose on the brains of rats under controlled laboratory conditions.