Researchers from Kansas and New York fed fresh bud to two donkeys to investigate the effects of cannabis intoxication on equines. The researchers gave a 20-year-old jack (the term for a male donkey) and an 8-year-old jenny (a female) several grams of raw flower that had been legally grown for human use.
As expected, the unwitting test subjects soon showed signs of being baked out of their minds. Just like humans that eat way too many pot brownies, the donkeys became highly lethargic and had unusually high heart rates. It took a lot longer for the donkeys to sober up than humans, though. The younger jenny was reportedly stoned for 44 hours after the experiment, but both donkeys fortunately recovered without any long-term health issues.
According to the study authors, this is the first study to explore the effects of cannabis on donkeys, which doesn't really come as much of a surprise. The research does indicate that donkeys and other equine species can get way too high from eating weed, though, and suggests that other mammals could also be susceptible to THC intoxication.
Because the researchers only used raw flower, they were unable to determine the exact dosage of THC or other cannabinoids that each animal consumed. Hence, the present study does not indicate exactly how much weed is too much for donkeys. The study authors did develop a testing procedure to help easily identify the effects of weed intoxication on donkeys or other equine species, however, which could help veterinarians quickly diagnose cases of inadvertent pot consumption.
The study authors recommend that vets treat cannabis toxicosis in equines by using laxatives, activated charcoal, or even by pumping the animals' stomachs. The researchers caution that there is currently no scientific evidence suggesting that these recommendations will be effective, but note that similar treatments work for dogs.
“Marijuana toxicosis is typically seen by companion animal veterinarians,” the researchers explained. “However, with increased marijuana availability, there is a greater potential for toxicosis in other species.”
Is anyone out in the real world actually feeding weed to donkeys? Probably not. There have been an increasing number of reports about animals getting sick from eating pot, though. In 2019, an Icelandic veterinarian discovered that several local horses were acting strangely after eating too many wild cannabis plants. Like the donkeys in the present study, the horses seemed confused and lethargic – but they were also way hungrier than usual.
Equine cannabis intoxication is actually pretty rare, but vets report that as more states legalize weed, more and more pets are getting sick from accidentally snacking on edibles. From 2018 to 2019, the ASPCA received 765 percent more calls about pets that had eaten pot. Many of these cases involve dogs that munched their owners' stash, but a study from 2019 found that dogs are also getting stoned from eating human feces that contain residual THC.