Can you use Narcan on dogs exposed to drugs?

If a dog is exposed to a drug like heroin or fentanyl, it can have a significant impact in their body.

The effects are similar to an overdose in a human, says Edward Cooper, VMD, MS, DACVECC, a veterinarian, clinical professor and head of Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In dogs, opiate drugs can cause sedation and decreased responsiveness through weakness, stumbling, collapse, shallow breaths, low heart rate and loss of consciousness.

In the video above, Dr. Cooper demonstrates how to administer naloxone (Narcan) to a dog experiencing an overdose. Below, he answers more questions about dogs in these circumstances.

Should I carry Narcan?

How do we know when we should give a dog Narcan?

Administration of naloxone would be warranted if the dog has collapsed, lost consciousness and/or has shallow breathing. If there’s been a known, significant exposure, administer Narcan as soon as these symptoms start. It might need to be repeated, because the effects of the opioids can outlast the naloxone.

How quickly can Narcan reverse the effects of overdose in a dog?

Typically, naloxone can reverse opioids’ effects in dogs within two to three minutes. If there’s no response in three to five minutes, you can repeat the dose.

What should someone do after their dog has been exposed to a drug and has been given Narcan?

Seek emergency veterinary care immediately. The effects of a single dose of naloxone can wear off with return of symptoms and the risk of death. Supportive care for several hours or even overnight is strongly recommended.

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