New York City dogs have been eating more weed than ever since the Empire State legalized weed, according to local veterinarians.
Many NYC vets are reporting that they now treat several cases of accidental canine cannabis consumption every single week. Before New York legalized weed in 2021, vets said they would only see weed-related incidents happen around once a month. Traditionally, most of these cases used to involve dogs eating weed-infused edibles, but in recent times, vets are treating more dogs for eating raw flower, discarded joints, and even vape carts.
“It’s always been a little bit of a problem, but as of late, we are seeing a rise in cases now that marijuana has been legalized here,” said Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, director of primary care at Bond Vet, to the New York Times.
The new trend of stoned dogs is not unique to New York. The ASPCA reported an 11% increase in cannabis-related emergency calls from 2021 to 2022, and the Pet Poison Helpline reported a 400% increase in the number of pet pot incidents since 2017. In most other states, dogs are getting high from munching edibles from their owner's stash, or in some unusual cases, from eating human feces tainted with residual THC.
But in NYC, most cases involve dogs eating discarded joints off the sidewalk. Unlike other legal-weed states, New York allows adults to smoke weed in public. This strategy has helped prevent cops from continuing to harass and ticket people of color for simply smoking legal weed, but many stoners discard joint butts or even half-smoked joints on the street, where they can easily be snarfed up by dogs.
Symptoms of canine cannabis intoxication can be scary, particularly if owners aren't aware that their dog has eaten weed. A stoned dog is likely to become overly sleepy, struggle with walking or maintaining their balance, and may dribble urine. In some cases, nausea, anxiety, or even hallucinations have been reported. After an hour or two, a dog's heart rate and body temperature can plummet to dangerous levels. Fortunately, very few of these incidents are fatal, and most dogs recover with no long-term consequences.
“In general, the good news is most dogs that ingest marijuana will be OK with treatments and sometimes without,” Dr. Fadl told the New York Times.
Vets recommend that dog owners should take extra precautions to protect their dogs from unwittingly eating cannabis. Pet owners that get high at home should ensure that their pets are not exposed to secondhand smoke and keep their stash locked away in a pet-proof area. Dog owners and walkers are encouraged to keep an eye out for discarded weed and to train their dogs not to eat discarded junk off the street.
Kimberlee Cruz, a dog trainer and vet assistant, told the New York Times that she urges pet owners to use “a short leash... if the dog likes eating things off the ground.” Cruz also recommended that owners should remain “aware of your surroundings, making sure you know you’re not on your cellphone.”
If you suspect that your pet has eaten weed, you should contact a vet or a pet hotline as soon as possible.
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