Police dogs and bird dogs (Proceedings)
The workload of a police dog or a bird dog creates varying medical issues which can be dependent upon their physical condition. If they are not conditioned to handle the workload exertional medical problems can arise. Another cause of medical problems in these dogs is related to the environments in which they work. Hypoglycemia is an example of a medical problem related to the dogs conditioning and the workload. Respiratory diseases and fungal diseases are related to the dogs working environment. If aggression is part of the police dog's activities then there will issues related to the neck and head.
Hypoglycemia is also known as exertional hypoglycemia, hunting dog hypoglycemia or sugar fits. Normal laboratory values for blood glucose are 70 – 150 mg/dl. Hypoglycemic dogs will have blood glucose values less than 50 mg/dl. Typical causes of hypoglycemia include over-working underconditioned dogs or allowing overanxious young dogs to be overworked. The signs include altered mentation (neuroglycopenia), trembling, shaking, nervousness, anxiety, weakness, and ataxia. The dog can collapse, have a seizure, go into a coma, or die from hypoglycemia. Field treatment of hypoglycemia involves infusing the body with glucose of some form. This glucose replenishment can come in many forms, but basically it is oral monosaccharides (glucose) absorbed through the mucous membranes. Dextrose is a common intravenous solution that can be given orally. Dextrose is a name for glucose. The dog can be given, orally, 100-200 milliliters (mls) of a 50% dextrose solution. Other glucose sources that can be used in the field are Karo syrup, honey, fruit juices, cola drinks (Pepsi, Coke, etc), or Gatorade. In the clinic, an IV catheter should be set in place and blood drawn to assess blood glucose levels and to confirm hypoglycemia, especially if the history describes a seizure or if the dog is in a seizure. The dog should be stabilized according to the clinical signs the dog is exhibiting. Dextrose can be given IV to elevate the blood glucose to normal levels. Prognosis is usually good but is dependent upon how bad the dog was at presentation.Systemic mycoses are infections with fungal agents that exist in the environment. The soil is the primary source of most infections, which can be acquired by inhalation, ingestion, or traumatic introduction of fungal elements. In bird dogs as they run through the fields they are exposed to various fungal sources. As they fatigue they begin mouth breathing which allows a large entry source for fungal pathogens. Fatigue will also reduce the body's ability to protect itself from these diseases.
The bird dog can is predisposed to many potential medical problems many of which can be prevented by properly conditioning the dog prior to the season.
The olfactory system pays a very important role in the performance of the Police Dog. The body can affect the olfaction capabilities of the dog. It is very important to set up a twice a year evaluation program for to assess metabolic and structural status of the dog. It is important to recognize the athleticism of the dog and that minute changes in the metabolism can affect the dog's ability to perform their working tasks.
Each of these evaluations should assess the metabolic and structural state of the dog. It should include a good musculoskeletal palpation of the dog to assess all sub-clinical issues. It should also include a full blood panel. This would include CBC, Chem panel, thyroid, and tick titers.