Dogs truly are a man’s best friend, with the first recorded use of dogs as companions dating back to roughly 20,000 years ago.
Image: Daily Grail
In certain cultures, as reported by a paper in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, as many as 43 different types of psychedelic plants have been given to dogs, likely in order to help them hunt better and perhaps to heighten their senses.
In researching for the paper, the authors focussed on Ecuadorian Shuar and Quechua people, discovering that they use at least 22 species of psychoactive plants for ‘ethnoveterinary purposes.’
The paper notes:
The use of psychoactive substances to improve a dog׳s hunting ability seems counterintuitive, yet its prevalence suggests that it is both adaptive and that it has an underlying pharmacological explanation. We hypothesize that hallucinogenic plants alter perception in hunting dogs by diminishing extraneous signals and by enhancing sensory perception (most likely olfaction) that is directly involved in the detection and capture of game. If this is true, plant substances also might enhance the ability of dogs to detect explosives, drugs, human remains, or other targets for which they are valued.
Some researchers also suspect that humans’ use of psychedelics is actually strongly linked to animals having used them first. In his book High Society: Mind-altering drugs in history and culture, Mike Jay notes that caffeine was actually discovered in this fashion:
In Ethiopia, for example, the discovery of coffee is attributed to goatherders who observerd their flock becoming frisky and high-spirited after consuming coffee beans. Goats are very fond of coffee, and modern plantations must be robustly fenced against them; their taste for the effects of caffeine may have prompted the plant, which spreads it seeds via animal droppings, to produce it. Theirs is a long-standing symbiosis, though human participation in the cycle is relatively new.