Marijuana legalization leading to more poisoning cases among pets, study says

GUELPH, Ontario — Cannabis may be legal in some states, but these products are still a danger to pets, a new study warns. Researchers at the University of Guelph have found that the number of marijuana poisoning cases among pets is rising sharply across North America in the wake of Canada legalizing the drug in 2018.

Pets exposed to cannabis may experience poisoning symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening. The research team analyzed 2021 survey data from 251 veterinarians in Canada and the United States, focusing on cannabis poisoning cases over the past few years.

After Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, the country experienced a significant spike in cannabis poisoning cases. The common culprit was leaving cannabis edibles out in the open where pets could eat them. It remains unclear how many of these cannabis products were meant for people versus medicinal use in pets. While the legalization of cannabis could explain the rise in cases, study authors note there is also a possibility that people are simply reporting more cases without fear of legal retribution.

Pets can die from cannabis exposure

Dogs were the most likely pets to fall victim to cannabis poisoning. There were also a number of cases involving cats, iguanas, ferrets, cockatoos, and even horses. Most cases were benign, with some observed symptoms including urinary incontinence, disorientation, and abnormally slow heart rate. Most animals received outpatient monitoring and nearly all made a full recovery.

A small number of cases resulted in the animal dying from cannabis exposure, although the researchers could not rule out other underlying conditions contributing to their death. The researchers propose additional cannabis research to help understand the effects cannabis has on animals.

“This is an important topic to study in the light of recent legalization of cannabis in Canada and across multiple states. In order to understand the mechanisms underlying cannabis-induced toxicosis in pets, and to develop treatments for it, we need to first understand what it looks like; this is what we had hoped to accomplish with this survey, and believe that these findings will help us get a better handle on this under-studied topic,” the study authors write in a media release.

The findings appear in the journal PLOS One.

About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

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Comments

  1. Cannabis consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

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    The prohibition of cannabis has not decreased the supply nor the demand for cannabis at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

    If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

    Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize cannabis when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

    Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Cannabis Laws.

    There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize cannabis nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

    The prohibitionist view on cannabis is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

    Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

    Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of cannabis prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

    With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a cannabis prohibitionist to do?

    Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!…and Support All Cannabis Legalization Efforts!

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