Sunday, January 28, 2018

An Overview Of K9 Opioid Overdose

By Kenneth Hughes

Drug abuse is a major concern in many countries worldwide. When it impacts a large swathe of the working population, the economy takes a hit. Opioids have been among the most abused drugs since the Victorian opium wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today, working sniffer dogs also suffer from K9 opioid overdose in the line of duty.

Police dogs usually go through a lot during field work. As they are naturally curious creatures, they like to sniff out drugs in all manner of places and sometimes inadvertently ingest drugs such as heroin. In such cases, emergency assistance should be given lest death sets in.

Luckily, dog handlers can get trained on how to handle such occurrences within the shortest time possible. The first bit of training involves emergency response techniques. Emergencies are usually handled using a variety of tools.

The key treatment drug for humans who get admitted for overdosing is Naloxone. As an antidote, its core compounds reverse the damage that heroin does to the body. Emergency responders administer it by spraying it on the nose or through injection. For long, the antidote has also been used successfully on dogs.

In a typical overdose incident, a dog is most likely to suffer from Fentanyl ingestion. This is a popular drug owing to its 50 times higher potency than heroin. When a dog inadvertently metabolizes it during a standard search mission, it may only take minutes for it to collapse and die. Owing to the significantly short response window, it is standard procedure for handling crews to carry Naloxone during every field assignment.

If you are in law enforcement as a handler, you should know what to do any time you are faced with a drug overdose from your canine. Staggering and general weakness are some of the symptoms you should spot immediately. Check whether the dog has difficulty staying upright or walking.

Once you spot these signs, you should check its respiratory rate immediately. Abused drugs usually slow the heart rate and can lead to respiratory failure. Your first actions should help ensure the dog does not slip into a cardiac arrest.

You should also know that most overdosed dogs react aggressively when attempts are made to treat them. As such, you should muzzle it before you administer Naloxone. The most prudent thing to do is to have someone to help you restrain the dog as you undertake the emergency procedures.

The trickiest part of treatment is respiratory failure. When this phase comes, breathing ceases. The standard response to this is CPR. However, avoid placing your mouth in the snout since you are not sure if there is any drug residue in it. You want to avoid ingesting the drug inadvertently.

Standard treatment kits come with face masks and CPR tubes. When administering CPR, give the dog 10 to 12 breaths per minute. Upon recovery, monitor it for 30 minutes. Repeat the entire treatment procedure if the condition gets worse.

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