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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary

The key to saving police dogs that have been exposed to large quantities of illicit substances is rapid action. Removal from the gastrointestinal tract, adsorption, and catharsis are the first steps. Some of these measures can be instituted on site by the attending officer. In case of accidental drug exposures of a dog during a search, police officers should have on hand apomorphine, syringes for administration of the drug and rinsing of the conjunctival sac, activated charcoal, a saline cathartic such as sodium sulfate (not needed if the activated charcoal product contains sorbitol), a resuscitator bag, and a well-fitting canine face mask.

If bags of drugs are ingested intact, immediate surgery by a veterinarian may be required to remove the bag and prevent an obstruction or rapid absorption of a lethal dose. Injectible medications to antagonize the effects of the drugs should be reserved for administration by a readily available veterinarian upon arrival of the dog at the veterinary hospital. Pharmacologic antagonistic agents may have adverse side effects, especially if used in the treatment of a drug exposure against which they are not specifically indicated. Proper dosage and route of administration are additional important factors with such treatment.

The veterinarian must instruct the police officers on the proper use, dosages, and methods of administration of the detoxifying agents as well as the proper procedures for using the face mask and resuscitator bag before an emergency arises. The officer should also be aware of the clinical signs likely to be produced following exposure to the agents for which these dogs search. It should be stressed that transport to a veterinary facility as quickly as possible is critical for a veterinarian to monitor the dog closely and institute appropriate supportive and antidotal measures to combat the dangerous effects of these agents. Cooperation between local veterinarians and the police department is vital to protecting the working dogs from the chemical hazards inherent in their job.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association