How the Opioid Crisis Is Affecting Dogs

In the current opioid epidemic that has been so problematic in the United States dogs it turns out are also victims of this deadly crisis. Recently, and for the first time, scientists have taken a look at the impact of opioids on our canine friends, and have found puppies and small breed dogs are most at risk. Scientists are also finding that some prescription pain drugs are not as effective for dogs as once thought. Read on to learn about the impact of opioid use and the effect it has had on pets.

Due to the increase in opioid-related deaths and overdoses that have occurred over the past decade, there has also been concern about the related impacts on pet dogs, but until recently there had not been any studies done to explore the potential links. To address these concerns, scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada analyzed data from nearly 200,000 phone calls made between 2006 and 2014 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). They also evaluated data on opioid prescriptions and opioid-related human deaths from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In their research scientists found that pet owners and veterinarians made nearly 600 calls per year, on average, to report accidental ingestion of opioids. Their research found that 3% or 5,126 of the calls made to the poison control center were related to opioid cases.

The study’s analysis identified a few different factors associated with higher odds of a dog being the subject of an accidental opioid poisoning call. These included the dog being smaller, younger, non-neutered, or living in a county with a high prescription rate. And, calls about opioid poisoning were more likely to be made by the veterinarian than by the pet owner. 

The authors found that: “Based on our analysis, it appears in US counties where there were more opioids prescribed per capita, there were higher odds of dog opioid poisonings being reported to an animal poison control center compared to other types of poisoning reports. This might suggest a possible “spill-over” effect of human opioid use on pet dogs, but alternative hypotheses concerning pet owner reporting behavior need to be considered.”

In another recent research study and findings on the subject of opioids and dogs conducted by veterinary doctors at the University of Illinois, it was concluded that prescribing oral opioids for dogs likely does not help them. There has been growing evidence that opioid drugs don’t work well in dogs. These medications treat the symptoms of pain and not the cause. They offer a quick fix for pain, often with dangerous side effects such as liver and kidney damage. While the underlying cause of the pain does not get addressed.

According to the University of Illinois veterinary anesthesiologist Dr. Stephanie Keating, a pain management expert in veterinary clinical medicine and a co-creator of the study, “Now that we’re getting more evidence, we’re thinking, ‘Wow, it doesn’t seem to be very effective and there’s an opioid crisis. Maybe we should reconsider this.’”

These veterinary doctors at the University of Illinois put together a free course of five online videos regarding veterinary care and opioid prescriptions.

Dogs are curious animals, especially puppies. It is important that medications are kept out of reach of animals just as well as children. It is also imperative that in the case of a pet accidentally ingesting an opioid medication a call to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 1-(888) 426-4435 takes place right away, and/or your veterinarian is alerted immediately.

At Flexpet we care a great deal about pet health and do our best to keep up to date with the latest research and news when it comes to keeping our furry companions in the best shape.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *