After the Webinar: Opioids, Animal Welfare and K9 Safety. Q&A with Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore

Webinar presenter Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore answered a number of your questions after her presentation, "Opioids, Animal Welfare and K9 Safety." Here are a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Does the size of the dog matter in terms of exposure? — this particular officer has a small terrier working dog. 

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore: Absolutely, the smaller the dog, the larger any exposure dose is going to be relative. Smaller dogs are at greater risk just like small children are at greater risk than adults with a large body mass are going to be less impacted. When we're talking about the fentalogs and the carfentanils of the world, it almost doesn't matter. A snowflake is a snowflake and it's going to knock us out, it will knock them out. But yes, your smaller dog is at greater risk than your bigger dog.


Audience Question: Could use of naloxone in a dog that has been misdiagnosed as being exposed cause injury?  

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore:  No. When in doubt, administer the naloxone, get to the veterinary hospital. If the dog looks like an opioid-exposed dog, take all those safety precautions for yourself. Inform the veterinarian when you arrive that you suspect it is opioid exposure but you don't know for sure. You can go ahead and use naloxone and if you were wrong, you have not done any harm except maybe spent a couple hundred dollars.


Audience Question: You talked a lot about the different kind of respirator masks. Can you talk about the one that you recommend that officers should have in their vehicles? 

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore:  After training and after a conversation with your own veterinarian, this is because this is a prescribed piece of equipment. You want to get the Yuckos pet oxygen mask because they come in two varieties — one with the green ventilators on the side, and one without. The one without the ventilators that is smooth plastic all the way is going to allow when the ambu bag is squeezed, as long as you have it nice and tight against the dogs face, it's going to push some air into the airway and into the lungs. With this particular mask with the vents, extra pressure of air is just going to go out to the sides. The reason for that is if someone is not trained and they are not providing significant oxygen through the mask, the animal can get hypoxic. Let's say somebody put a mask with no ventilation on the dog's face and wasn't delivering enough oxygen, the dog can become oxygen-starved. With these safety vents, if you left that mask on the dog's face, he could still breathe and he would be alright. But for our purposes, for the emergency kit, for the working dog potentially exposed to opioids, you want training for how to use the mask that has no side vents.


Audience Question: Is there anyone that is tracking animal and pet deaths due to exposure to opioids? 

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore:  Not to my knowledge. There's no centralized database for this. In doing my research, I only learn of a handful of cases here and there around the country. I don't know if it's just not being reported or if it's not happening as much as we fear it could.


Audience Question: Is there any kind of field test that we can run to confirm whether our canine has been exposed? 

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore:  So field testing is completely out of my area of expertise and I do not know of any field testing to determine if a dog is showing symptoms whether or not it is due to a narcotic. There is no easy test for that.


Audience Question: How long after exposure will a dog start demonstrating those symptoms? 

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore:  It really depends on how the exposure happened. If the dog inhaled an airborne particle of dust, and it enters the airway and settles in there, the exposure is going to be very quick. I would say within one to two minutes after exposure. However, if it's in the fur and it takes a little while until the dog gets to take a break and sits down and nibbles on his toes for a little bit, and then he gets exposed because he got it on the seat, that could be very delayed. That could be twenty minutes or two hours after the working exposure.


Click here to watch a recording of "Opioids, Animal Welfare and K9 Safety."




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