Cannabis poisoning on rise across US with most dogs injesting discarded joint butts, vets say

Pot-using pet parents are on notice as veterinarians note a worrying rise in poisoning linked to cannabis, especially in dogs

                            Cannabis poisoning on rise across US with most dogs injesting discarded joint butts, vets say
A picture of a Boxer dog (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Veterinarians are warning pet parents to better conceal their cannabis cache, especially edibles as they witness an increase in pet poisoning linked to cannabis. According to the reports by drug researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, dogs were the most common victim of THC poisoning among pets, though cats were implicated, too. Their list included unusual animal allies like iguanas, ferrets, cockatoos, and horses.

"Most cases of cannabis toxicity was via oral route of delivery, by ingesting edibles or discarded joint butts or dried plant materials," said study author Jibran Khokhar, an assistant professor in the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, told CNN. "People may also be giving THC or CBD to their pet for medicinal purposes, but there's a handful of indications that CBD actually works for -- everything else is hooey," he said. "Cannabis-based medicine is not approved for veterinary use," he added. 


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The new survey of North American veterinarians also revealed cases of pot poisoning among pets that are on the rise and have “increased significantly” since October 2018, coinciding with the previous edict. More than 200 veterinarians were polled in 2021 for the survey, around one-third of vets noted an increase in instances of THC toxicosis since 2018. The veterinarians noted a wide variety of symptoms such as lack of bladder control, confusion, clumsiness, sluggishness, and slowed heartbeat. Animals with cannabis poisoning also frequently experienced disorientation, incoordination, lethargy, twitching, and sensitivity to noise, light, or smells. 

According to the report, most pets sickened by space cakes won’t require hospitalization and nearly always make a full outpatient recovery at home under the care of their owners. In severe cases, IV fluids, induced vomiting, and doses of activated charcoal (to help absorb the toxin) were used to nurse the animal back to health. Of the 16 deaths reported in the survey, many cases likely involved other risk factors, such as old age, underlying illness, size, or chocolate - a popular medium for edibles that are also potentially lethal for dogs. 

The trend correlates with the movement to legalize the herb for recreational and medical use across the US. Colorado and Washington states were the first to legalize recreational weed in 2012 with New Jersey signing on as the latest. 

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