Marijuana legalization in North America has increased the incidence of pet poisoning

(ORDO NEWS) — The legalization of cannabis in Canada and the United States has led to an increase in the incidence of marijuana poisoning in pets, especially dogs. As a rule, pets tolerated intoxication without serious health consequences, but deaths have also been reported.

The legalization of marijuana in Canada occurred in 2018, in the US it is legal in most states for medical purposes, and 18 states allow personal use of cannabis.

Changes in policy regarding this psychoactive substance coincided with an increase in reports of marijuana poisoning in pets. However, no one has yet assessed the extent of the problem.

Now scientists from the Veterinary College of Ontario (Canada) conducted a survey among veterinarians in Canada and the United States to establish the real consequences of legalization for pets.

The survey, which was conducted from January to April 2021, involved 251 veterinarians. About 40% of the experts surveyed confirmed an increase in cannabis poisoning of animals over the past five years.

Some veterinarians have reported five to six cases per week. Dogs were the most common victims, but marijuana intoxication has also been reported in cats, iguanas, ferrets, horses, and parrots.

Most poisonings involve the accidental ingestion of cigarette butts or discarded plant materials. However, cannabis-containing confectionery, such as biscuits and chocolate, also posed a danger. These foods attract animals by smell and contain toxic food additives that can exacerbate poisoning.

The researchers do not rule out that in some cases the owners may have given the animals marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. Although at the moment there is not a single drug approved for veterinary use that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient in marijuana).

The most common symptoms in animals exposed to cannabis were disorientation, lethargy, incoordination, decreased heart rate, low blood pressure, and urinary incontinence. In addition, their level of photosensitivity and anxiety increased.

The results of the study showed that the majority of pets returned to normal within 24-48 hours after visiting the hospital and did not require inpatient treatment. However, 16 dogs died due to poisoning.

According to scientists, pet owners should be extremely careful in countries where the use of marijuana is legal. Owners should carefully supervise their pets when outdoors, and store cannabis-containing products in closed containers out of reach.


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