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The Opioid Crisis is Also Affecting Working Canines

  • November 6, 2017 11:51 AM EST

    The use and misuse of prescription and synthetic opioids has become a public health crisis. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported that in the United States alone more than 90 people die every day from overdosing on opioids. In response to this crisis, training of first responders has ensued. As such, law enforcement and emergency medical service personnel have become integral in helping to prevent deaths by administering opioid reversal agents in the prehospital setting.

    Dogs working in the field with law enforcement have also become victims of this epidemic. Working canines are at risk for exposure to opioids primarily through inhalation, however absorption across the skin or mucous membranes can also occur. Because many of the illegally manufactured opioids now often include fentanyl or carfentanil (100 and 10,000 times more potent than heroin, respectively), both humans and working canines are at risk of life-threatening exposure.

    Veterinarians at the University of Illinois produced a video to provide veterinary professionals with information regarding opioid exposure in working dogs. This video describes common clinical signs and potentially life-saving treatment of dogs exposed to these drugs.