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It’s not something you’re going to see in cute pet videos or hear discussed on Animal Planet but left to their own devices, many dogs will eat poop.
There’s even a fancy name for it: coprophagia. This is horrifying for most dog owners. Once they’ve seen their dog engage in it, they will take whatever steps necessary to ensure it never, ever happens again. But if you’re a marijuana user and your dog somehow finds and eats your excrement, this bizarre behavior can also be dangerous.
A new study out of Australia has found that dogs may get high from eating their owner’s poop. Or, as the researchers from the Animal Emergency Center in Victoria put it, their research “describes a novel and unexpected source for marijuana toxicosis in dogs; suspected ingestion of human feces containing Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”
Dogs aren’t the only weird ones
That a dog – even the best, most loveable dog ever – will indulge in a little excrement al fresco is a given. The question many people may have after seeing the study is, “How are dogs eating the poop of their owners?”
The Australian researchers have an answer. They collected data from 24-hour veterinarian emergency room services in Melbourne, Australia. They found the “site of human fecal exposure” included a local park, beach, campsites, and walking trails.
How do they know this? They report that “confirmation of ingestion of human feces was based on owner-witnessed ingestion” or they found fecal material in the dog’s vomit. It should be noted that every dog involved in the study survived.
These cases differ greatly from dogs using tested cannabis-related products, such as CBD for pets. It’s impossible to know the amount of THC the dogs ingested or the potency of the strain involved.
Responsible dog owners need to better manage the situation
The researchers found that dogs began showing clinical signs of toxicosis within three to six hours after ingesting the poop. That included incoordination, dilated pupils, urinary incontinence, and stupor. Urine tests conducted at the emergency rooms showed THC metabolites present in more than half the dogs presenting these symptoms.
The researchers concluded that human feces containing THC may lead to cannabis toxicosis in dogs. “Veterinary staff and owners should be attentive in regard to using appropriate hygiene measures when managing these dogs,” they wrote.
Research has shown that dogs have more cannabis receptors than humans. That makes them far more sensitive to the effects of THC. Another reason to beware: researchers speculated that the presence of cannabis in the poop might have further enticed the dogs to eat it. They wrote, “It is possible that the presence of marijuana in feces increases its attractiveness for ingestion by altering its scent, texture and/or taste.”