University of Guelph News Services.

As cannabis use grows in popularity and becomes less restricted in North America, more dogs are accidentally consuming products containing THC, according to a new University of Guelph study.

The first-of-its-kind study published in PLOS Global Public Health, is based on U.S. data, but the problems are similar in Canada, say the researchers.

“We found in the data that there was an association between a reduction in penalties for cannabis use and possession and dogs being poisoned with cannabinoids,” said lead author and PhD candidate Mohammad Howard-Azzeh, who worked on the study with professor David Pearl, of the department of population medicine. “There is some evidence to suggest these poisoning events are increasing in the U.S.”

The U of G researchers examined factors that differed between cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid calls to the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. AnTox, a veterinary database that stores comprehensive clinical animal toxicology data related to those calls, identifies and characterizes toxic effects of substances in animals, based on reports from veterinarians and members of the public.

Pearl received an NSERC Discovery Grant to work with the AnTox data set as part of a larger epidemiological study. Howard-Azzeh analyzed the data from 2009 to 2014.