Pets across the US accidentally ate more weed than ever last year, according to data from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Last year, the ASPCA poison control center reported a massive increase in calls about pets who had accidentally ingested marijuana. In the first few months of 2019, the poison control center received 765 percent more calls about stoned pets than they did at the start of 2018. Last January alone, the ASPCA Pro webpage about pet weed intoxication saw a 700 percent increase in traffic, compared to January of 2018.
Animals who consume marijuana can experience depression, ataxia, hypothermia, decreased heart rate, drooling, and loss of bladder control. In rare situations, large quantities of pot can cause agitation, seizures, or coma. "They can consume enough to die,” said Michigan veterinarian Dr. Ron Van Ryswyk to WNEM5, but added that “it's really rare” for pot to cause such an extreme outcome. Fortunately, in most situations, there are no long-term health consequences from weed exposure in cats or dogs.
Dr. Van Ryswyk said that he is not surprised by the ASPCA's reported increase in accidental pot consumption. "Ten years ago we might get a dog, maybe a dog a month, and that was usually a dog that belonged to some college kids. We see it now at least once a week."
Dogs seem to be most attracted to pot edibles, as infused foods often take the form of baked goods or sweets that appeal to the canine palate. Cats, on the other hand, are more likely to ingest cannabis flower.
Veterinarians believe that this uptick in pet weed consumption is due to the increased availability of cannabis products following the growing wave of legalization. Dr. Van Ryswyk points out that the vanishing stigma against pot use may also account for some of this increase, though. “It used to be that once someone came in with that dog and you suspected those symptoms, you had to say, 'OK, I'm not going to the police,'” the vet told WNEM. “Now, people come through the door and they say the dog ate the cookies."
Pet owners are advised to keep their weed locked up and out of pets' reach. But sometimes, even keeping weed away from pets may not be enough. Last spring, California vets discovered that many dogs were experiencing the symptoms of cannabis intoxication, even though their owners swore that they didn't keep weed in the house. It turns out that dogs can get high from weed residue left over in human feces, and the pungent combination of these two aromas may be too much for some canines to resist.
Accidental weed consumption is not the only way that the increased acceptance of cannabis is affecting American pets. The popularity of weed-related pet names, including “Kush,” “Herb,” and “Indica,” all increased massively last year. The most popular pot-themed dog name, “Budder,” grew in popularity by 600 percent from 2018 to 2019.