Veterinarians describe an increase in cases in North America since the legalization of Canada in 2018; reveal the results of poisoning

A survey of veterinarians in the United States and Canada sheds light on rising cases of cannabis poisoning in pets and sheds new light on symptoms, treatments and outcomes. Richard Quansa Amissa of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues present these results in an open access journal. PLUS ONE April 20, 2022

Pets exposed to cannabis, most commonly by ingestion, may exhibit symptoms of cannabis poisoning, also known as cannabis toxicosis, with varying degrees of severity. While previous evidence suggests that cases of cannabis poisoning among pets are on the rise, the true extent of the problem, including typical effects on pets, is unclear.

To better understand cannabis poisoning in pets, Amissa and colleagues analyzed data from a survey of 251 Canadian or US veterinarians. Conducted in 2021; the survey included questions about cases of cannabis poisoning experienced by participants over the previous few years.

Statistical analysis of survey responses found that cases of cannabis poisoning increased significantly in the United States and Canada following the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018. The most common cause of poisoning was uncontrolled consumption of cannabis food products, but it was not clear what proportion of cannabis products were obtained for human consumption compared to medicinal consumption by pets. The authors note that the increase after legalization could be explained by an increase in cannabis use, but that an increase in reports could also contribute to this.

Cannabis poisoning has been most commonly seen in dogs, but cases have also been reported in cats, iguanas, ferrets, horses, and cockatoos. While most cases were mild, observed symptoms seen primarily in dogs included urinary incontinence, confusion, and abnormally slow heartbeats. Most of the animals were treated under outpatient supervision and almost all animals made a full recovery.

In a small number of cases, veterinarians have reported that pets have died from cannabis poisoning, although the researchers note that other potential causes, such as underlying diseases, were not identified and could not be excluded from the study. As the use of cannabis products continues to grow, they are calling for more research into the effects of cannabis on pets to help inform veterinary efforts and policies to keep pets healthy.

The authors add: “This is an important topic to study in light of the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada and in many states. To understand the mechanisms underlying cannabis-induced toxicosis in pets and develop treatments, we need to first understand what it looks like; this is what we hoped to achieve with this survey, and we believe these results will help us better understand this little-studied topic. »

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