K9 Police Dogs Concern with Fentanyl Opioid Overdose

How Can We Protect Police K9 Dogs From Fentanyl Deaths?

There are far too many news stories about police officers getting accidentally exposed to harmful substances, including synthetic opioids like carfentanyl and fentanyl. 

Now there is another concern in the law enforcement field. These drugs can be extra dangerous when your detective work involves sniffing.

K9 Mask® air filter for dog police service k9 units working opioid fentanyl illness and death

There are reports that K9 service dogs assisting in a federal drug raids are showing symptoms of overdose.  The canines refused water and were lethargic. Just like human officers who need to be hospitalized after accidentally inhaling puffs of exposed fentanyl or other substances, police dogs – who do their job primarily by sniffing – can encounter the same danger. 


Working dogs have been doing narcotics detection with police officers for over 100 years and there has been little evidence of toxicities in the past from inhaled compounds in the line of duty. But that has changed for the worse now that there are two drugs on the street, fentanyl, and carfentanil, which are significantly more potent than heroin.

Police dogs are overdosing on opioids like fentanyl

Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin—so deadly that just a few inhaled grains can cause an overdose. That can be a problem when sniffing is a K9 police dog’s primary mode of detective work. Since such a small amount can be harmful, the handler or anyone in the area may not see the threat until it is too late.

Fully trained police dogs are worth around $30,000 each, and police departments are looking for ways to protect these canine officers on the job. Colorado is equipping all its police canine teams with Narcan, the overdose-reversal drug. Police in Canada are training dogs on liquid, rather than powder, fentanyl to minimize the risk of exposure during training. Maryland state police also carry Narcan for their dogs and are trained to look for “excessive drooling and severe limping” as symptoms of overdose.

K9 Mask Air Filter Mask for Dog Protection from Fentanyl Poisoning.

Fentanyl is so toxic, so strong that a very small amount, you cannot even see, can affect a dog. At animal hospitals staffers who examine dogs are realizing that they are dealing with classic opioid overdoses and that speed of care is critical. Usually when a person dies of an opioid overdose, they stop breathing. This is the same with animals.

Police officers are now wearing respirators, dust masks, latex gloves and long-sleeve shirts when testing any powder at a crime scene that has potential fentanyl in the location. But, what can a K9 police dog do to protect itself?

Helping Find Solutions for K9 Police Dogs Working with Opioids like Fentanyl

Dogs are susceptible to inhaling the grains of fentanyl drugs into their respiratory system as the most harmful way to introduce the drug into a dog's system. They might also absorb it through the pads of their feet or get it on their fur and later ingest the drug into their system through licking. All these methods of transmission are a risk to a dog for overdosing on fentanyl.

K9 Mask® Solution for Police Dogs

K9 Mask® dog air filters are one way working dogs can be protected from opioid inhalation, especially fentanyl. Using an air filter on a K9 police working dog will have a variety of effects on a dog's ability to smell various elements but provide protection from potential harmful opioids in the field.

K9 Mask® air filters have been certified by Blue Heaven Technologies in Louisville, Kentucky, USA with an ISO 16890 Air Filter Test for the Extreme Breathe (XTRM) and Clean Breathe (CLN) air filters. 

This is a summary of the test results for these two K9 Mask® air filters:

Extreme Breathe XTRM N95 Active Carbon Air Filter

Particulate Size (PM in microns) Initial Efficiency % Discharged Efficiency %
0.3-0.4 99% 42%
0.4-0.55 99% 53%
0.55-0.7 99% 63%
0.7-1.0 99% 73%
1.0-1.3 99% 84%
1.3-1.6 100% 90%
1.6-2.0 100% 95%
2.0-3.0 100% 99%
3.0-4.0 100% 100%
4.0-5.5 100% 100%
5.5-7.0 100% 100%
7.0-10.0 100% 100%

Clean Breathe PM10+ Active Carbon Air Filter

Particulate Size (PM in microns) Initial Efficiency % Discharged Efficiency %
0.3-0.4 1% 2%
0.4-0.55 2% 2%
0.55-0.7 2% 3%
0.7-1.0 3% 3%
1.0-1.3 4% 3%
1.3-1.6 5% 5%
1.6-2.0 7% 7%
2.0-3.0 12% 12%
3.0-4.0 23% 22%
4.0-5.5 41% 40%
5.5-7.0 61% 59%
7.0-10.0 74% 69%

K9 Mask Drug Air Filter to Protect Police Dogs from Drug Opioid Overdose

With all the hazards of opioid exposure, there has been one positive development regarding the emergency treatment of police dogs: Legislatures across the country have started taking notice of the necessity of emergency treatment for working dogs. Starting with Colorado in 2014, three other states (Ohio, New York, and Illinois) have made it legal for EMS to treat dogs and/or transport them in emergency situations. 

We anticipate further advances in transport and treatment for working dogs exposed to opioids or injured in the line of duty. It is about taking care of both the handlers and their K9 partners in a health crisis. 

K9 Mask Air Filter for Dogs to Protect from Opioids and Fentanyl Drug Overdose in Police Working Dogs