It’s not just discarded joints. Human feces might also be getting dogs high and sick

Twitter icon

“It is possible that weed in feces increases its attractiveness for ingestion by altering its scent, texture and/or taste."

Dogs’ noses are remarkable things, with their sense of smell said to be about 40 times greater than that of humans. But those blue ribbon noses can lead pooches down the wrong path and, sometimes, nose-deep in human waste that contains cannabis and its psychoactive compound, THC.

The Los Angeles Times reported one such incident this past September. Taking her sluggish Chihuahua-terrier mix to the vet, the owner was told her dog was stoned after apparently sniffing out a chocolate edible near a softball field.

And that unexpected source appears to be human feces containing suspected THC.

Investigators suggested a reason these dogs might be drawn to eat human feces. “It is possible that the presence of marijuana in feces increases its attractiveness for ingestion by altering its scent, texture and/or taste,” they noted, per Marijuana Moment.

After reviewing records from 24-hour, veterinary emergency hospitals in Melbourne, they found the 15 cases from 2011 to 2020, notes the case report, published online last week in the Australian Veterinary Journal.

Among the dogs included, 13 had ataxia (uncoordinated abnormal movement), mydriasis (larger than normal pupil size), five had hyperesthesia (increased sensitivity to a sensory stimulant), four had urinary incontinence and three had stupor (animal is unconscious, but can be roused with strong external stimulus). All dogs survived to discharge.

While urine drug-screening shows eight dogs were positive for THC, confirmation that the dogs had ingested human feces was based on owner-witnessed ingestion or the presence of fecal material in the dog’s vomit, study authors write.

There was no surprise, though, about where the exposures are thought to have occurred. These were typical pet haunts such as local parks, beaches, campsites and walking trails.

In an emailed response to Marijuana Moment, author Clara Lauinger made clear the findings should not be read as meaning any level of THC is toxic in dogs.

For the dogs in the case study, amounts and THC concentrations are unknown. That said, “veterinary staff and owners should be attentive in regard to using appropriate hygiene measures when managing these dogs,” the study notes.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that cases of cannabis-exposed pets are up and could go higher with moves by more states to legalize adult-use weed, per the L.A. Times. Indeed, the group’s Animal Poison Control Center saw a 765 per cent jump in calls for pets eating weed during the first few months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

In B.C. this past spring, veterinarians at the Fairfield Animal Hospital in Kelowna said more than a dozen dogs were brought in over Easter weekend after showing signs of THC consumption. Staff there reported that since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been about one, sometimes two, such visits per day.

“Not all pets follow a single pattern of intoxication. A small amount may affect one pet more than another, so there is no official safe level of exposure,” notes information from VCA Animal Hospitals. Among other factors, toxicity differences will depend on age, health status and body size.Per Global News, Dr. Alastair Westcott, medical director of Mountainside Medical Hospital in Vancouver, reported earlier this year that dogs have 10 times as many cannabinoid receptors in their brains. That means cannabis exposure effects are more severe and potentially more toxic than they would be for people.

A Canadian study released this past spring, one in which investigators considered dog weed poisoning reports in the U.S., also offered a caution. “There were significantly higher odds of a call being related to cannabis in states with lower penalties for cannabis use and possession,” investigators write.

Pointing out “the odds of these calls were higher in counties with higher income variability, higher percentage of urban population, and among smaller, male and intact dogs,” they suggest results highlight “the need to educate dog owners about safeguarding cannabis products from vulnerable populations.”

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Article category: 
Regional Marijuana News: