Protecting Police Dogs from Overdoses

New drug kits give Narcan to police dogs exhibiting opioid overdose behaviors.
Published: June 6, 2017

In an effort to protect police dogs from overdosing on opioids, some officers have begun carrying Narcan drug kits for their dogs.

Multiple departments have reported carrying the new kits to improve K-9 safety during drug raids, including the Massachusetts State Police and the Hartford Police Department in Connecticut, reports The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina has also trained officers on administering Narcan to police dogs.

Traditional drug kits containing naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, have been used to reverse human overdoses for years.

Police dogs are frequently sent into houses and cars to sniff their way through areas suspected of containing drugs. But, with the proliferation of stronger opioids on the streets, that has become an increasingly dangerous duty.

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Three police dogs were sent to an animal hospital in Florida last year after coming in contact with fentanyl, a potent substance that is often mixed with heroin.

“Dogs are not looking for drugs with their eyes and feeling with their fingers; they’re literally breathing it in and inhaling it,” Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said. “Our officers wanted it for their dogs’ safety.”

Some opioids like Fentanyl and Carfentanil can also be absorbed through police dogs’ paws.

The K-9 drug kits are remarkably similar to Narcan kits used for humans: Both allow the drug to be injected or used as a nasal spray. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration permits human naloxone kits to be used on certain police dogs after the K-9 receives a prescription from a veterinarian.

Police dogs exposed to certain opioids will exhibit similar symptoms as humans, including sedation, smaller pupils, vomiting, stumbling and slow respiratory rate.

Read Next: Drug Trend: Carfentanil Opioid Surge Poses Threat to Police, First Responders

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