Training video helps veterinarians treat opioid overdoses in dogs

GettyImages-155096678_PoliceDog_300x300Overdoses from extremely potent illegal opioids are on the rise across America – but not just for humans. These drugs are now endangering working dogs who encounter them in the line of duty.  As a result, veterinarians are increasingly asked to consult by phone for dogs suffering from overdoses in the field.

To ensure veterinarians have the resources they need to respond to this emerging health threat, and in response to law enforcement requests, the University of Illinois reached out to the AVMA and other organizations for help in creating educational materials. The result is a comprehensive training video to help veterinarians and law enforcement teams provide potentially life-saving treatment for dogs.

Emerging opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil are so potent that even a small exposure can be deadly. To combat these drugs, many law enforcement officers have begun carrying naloxone, sometimes sold under the brand name Narcan, which can reverse the effects of a drug overdose. In the right hands, this drug 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, available research indicates that administering naloxone on-site can be a proactive, life-saving option. This video provides critical information for veterinarians who have a doctor-client relationship with canine handlers and need to provide advice by phone.

The video received expertise and financial support from the Police Training Institute. Other collaborators included the University of Illinois’ Division of Animal Resources and Extension Office, and the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association.

As a follow-up to the video, University of Illinois veterinarians and the Police Training Institute plan to study K-9 officer training and opioid-related adverse events in working dogs.

5 thoughts on “Training video helps veterinarians treat opioid overdoses in dogs

  1. Am I the only one who can’t play the video? The message I see is:
    This video is restricted. Try signing in with a Google Apps account.

  2. Hello,
    I am the Research and Development Coordinator for the Customs and Border Protection Canine Program. Let me start by thanking the AVMA for producing this article and associated video. Your efforts will go far to protecting our canine partners against this new and emerging threat. I would like to distribute this information to the over 1,500 handlers within CBP but I have a problem I hope you can help me with. Our computer systems have security measures that wont allow us to play the video off of a website. Is there a way I could get a direct copy of the video that I could distribute? Any help you could provide would be appreciated.
    Matthew Devaney
    Research and Development Coordinator
    CBP Canine Program
    Office: 915-231-5323

    • Hi Matthew,

      Thank you for your interest in spreading this information. AVMA was one of several contributors to this project. This video is embedded here from YouTube, so if you are able to play from YouTube, you can stream from here: Otherwise, you will need to contact the University of Illinois to inquire about use. I recommend reaching out to their veterinary college’s Office of Public Engagement:

      Please also refer to this note regarding the video content:
      “Note: The educational video is intended as an educational tool for licensed veterinarians. The information contained in this video should not be used as a substitute for a consultation with your treating veterinarian. In the case of a suspected canine overdose, contact your treating veterinarian immediately.”

      Thank you!