Video helps veterinarians treat opioid overdoses in working dogs

Published on July 26, 2017
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The University of Illinois has produced a video to help veterinarians and law enforcement teams treat working dogs that encounter opioids in the line of duty. The university reached out to the AVMA and other organizations for help in creating the video.

Some opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil, are so potent that even a small exposure can be deadly. Many law enforcement officers have begun carrying naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone can be used effectively to provide emergency treatment for working dogs, but the version carried by law enforcement officials is often a nasal spray rather than the injectable version commonly used by veterinarians.

Law enforcement officials are encouraged to take a dog suffering from an overdose to a veterinarian immediately. However, research indicates that administering naloxone on-site can be a proactive, life-saving option. The new video provides information for veterinarians who have a relationship with dog handlers and need to provide advice by phone.

The University of Illinois Police Training Institute provided expertise and financial support for the video. Other collaborators included the university's Division of Animal Resources and Extension Office and the Illinois State VMA.

As a follow-up, University of Illinois veterinarians and the Police Training Institute plan to study training of dog handlers and opioid-related adverse events in working dogs.

The video is available on YouTube.