The Danger of Discarded Joints for Dogs: Why Pet Owners Need to Be Cautious

The owner of an 8-month-old toy poodle named Bondi took him to the vet after he started stumbling and could barely stand following a walk. 

The veterinarian diagnosed that the dog was under the influence of drugs.

Briggs suspects that Bondi ate a discarded joint during their walk as there are a lot of pot shops in New York City, and she often smells marijuana while walking around her Manhattan neighborhood. She has also noticed unfinished joints littering the sidewalks.

In areas like New York City, where the first legal recreational cannabis dispensary opened last year, people are permitted to smoke it in public. 

Consequently, more dogs are coming across and consuming discarded cannabis joints and edibles, causing concern among veterinarians and pet owners who attribute the sharp increase in pet poisonings to smokers who are unaware of the harm caused by littering.

Dr. Amy Attas, a veterinarian in New York City, stated that marijuana poisonings in pets were uncommon in the past, even after medical dispensaries opened. The majority of such incidents used to occur at home, where pets accidentally consumed their owners’ marijuana.

The reason why marijuana poisonings are becoming more common among pets is that people are consuming marijuana on the street and carelessly discarding the remains of their joints, which dogs are eating. This issue is a major problem because marijuana consumption is increasing, and more dogs are coming into contact with discarded joints. 

In the first three months of this year, Dr. Attas has already treated six cases of marijuana poisoning, which is the same number she has treated in the past 30 years. She believes that this is an indication of the growing problem, especially since there are many other vets working in New York City.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, cases of pets getting poisoned by marijuana are increasing across the country. In 2021, there was an 11% increase from the roughly 6,200 cases reported in the previous year, and over the past five years, there has been a 300% increase.

Attas expressed surprise at how common marijuana poisoning cases in pets have become. She noted that 21 states have legalized recreational cannabis, and in cities like New York, the scent of marijuana is pervasive in public spaces.

Often, pet owners don’t know that their dogs have consumed a discarded joint until the dogs start showing symptoms of being poisoned. Even when the dogs show symptoms, owners may not be aware of what is causing the illness.

Sue Scott’s 9-month-old pug, Circe, collapsed after a walk, and she was worried about her dog’s condition. She was not aware that marijuana poisoning could be the cause of her pet’s condition. Dr. Attas told her that Circe displayed signs of being high.

Since then, Scott has been keeping Circe on a shorter leash and watching where she puts her nose. Despite owning four other pugs, none of whom had ever returned home stoned, she found it challenging to control her pug because they are always on the lookout for their next meal.

While dogs usually don’t die from consuming marijuana, the treatment can be costly and require a visit to the animal emergency room, intravenous fluids, and even a stomach pump. Moreover, the pet and its owner may experience significant stress.

Bondi has been poisoned three times from eating discarded marijuana products, according to his owner, Colleen Briggs. Despite her efforts to be vigilant during walks, the abundance of discarded joints on the streets makes it difficult to prevent Bondi from eating them.

Although she has caught him once and removed a joint from his mouth, she admits to being distracted when he became sick a second time and let him ride out his high. Briggs acknowledges the intensity of the situation when walking Bondi and the prevalence of discarded joints.


Read More: Time

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