In states where marijuana is legal, pets are getting into their owners’ edibles.
According to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, easier access to edible forms of marijuana is likely partially to blame for the increase in pet poisonings.
Dr. Ahna Brutlag, director of veterinary services and senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline in Minnesota, said in the past 10 years, she’s seen an increase in the number of pet cannabis poisonings from edibles, which have become both more widely legal and more potent.
“Because this looks like and smells like food, dogs especially, being the opportunists that they are, they are going to want to eat it,” said Brutlag, who was not involved with the new research. “They also don’t just eat one; they eat as much as they possibly can in that one sitting. Because the edibles are so much more concentrated in the THC than the flower, they end up getting a very large dose all at one time.”
The number of marijuana poisoning cases among pets jumped significantly in both Canada and the United States in 2018, after the drug was federally legalized in Canada, according to the new study.
The researchers surveyed more than 200 veterinarians in Canada and the United States in 2021. In total, they found 283 reported cases of marijuana poisoning in pets. The vast majority were in dogs, but they also found 51 reported cases in cats, two in iguanas, two in ferrets, one in a horse and one in a cockatoo. The most common source of poisoning was edibles, followed closely by dried cannabis.
“I was expecting to see poisonings in cats and dogs, but the other animals, I wasn’t expecting,” said lead study author Jibran Khokhar, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. Also surprising was the number of animal deaths reported, he said, “especially because we don’t know about any cannabis-related deaths in humans.”