K9 Combat Medicine – Hostile Environment K9 Care

Hostile Environment K9 Medical Expert Simon – What You Need To Know

by Simon Newbery

Remote Area and Hostile Environment K9 Medical expert Simon Newbery helps identify what you need to know and do in a K9 medical emergency to help your dog survive the everyday demands of being a working dog. Medical emergencies are distressing for both dog and handler. Knowing what to do in an emergency may mean the difference between life and death for your dog. Learn how to treat injuries with Simon.

First aid is only the initial tier on the medical treatment ladder. It should never be used as a substitute for veterinary care. But it may save your dog’s life before you can get your animal to professional help.

Capt. Josheph Novak, 129th Medical Detachment , neuters "Chip", a dog at the mobile veterinary clinic at Yongsan, Army Garrison, Seoul Korea 21 Oct. 1998. The mobile Vet. clinic often attents to service members' pets, during training exercises, to include the present one, Foal Eagle '98. (U.S Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Nicole Thurston)

Whatever your area of canine work, prior planning is important and may depend on the environment you and your dog are exposed to. This could be urban or rural areas or hostile to non-hostile environments as with military working dogs. It may involve tactical deployment which affects in turn what you can do to help your dog. Start thinking ‘Veterinary Threat Assessment’.

Points to consider when making your plan for a basic veterinary risk assessment.

  • What are the most likely things that may happen realistically to my dog when I deploy?
    (Hostile vs non-hostile)
  • What will be my plan of action should something happen whilst working?
  • Would I be able to direct other people to treat or handle my dog if I am injured myself at the same time? (e.g. RTA whilst transporting your dog)
  • Do I carry a K9-IFAK, (K9-Individual First aid kit) in my vehicle or at my kennels/training base?
    What are my skill levels and where can I seek further professional help should I need it? (nearest vets clinic, open all hours or only certain times)
  • How far in time and distance is that help, will my dog need monitoring on route?
  • Is telemedicine a possible help?
    (Can I speak to a vet directly or send images to get better advice)
  • The environment you will be working in may greatly affect some of your answers.



Your emergency K9 medical skills should include being able to deal with ‘MARCHON’

  • M -Massive bleeding
  • A – Airway
  • R – Respiration
  • C – Circulation
  • H – Head, hyperthermia/hypothermia
  • O – Other injuries
  • N – No pain/ comfort

When dealing with that emergency you should also be thinking about how you are going to package your dog for transportation and alerting veterinary clinic ahead or upon arrival with what has happened, what you are dealing with and where possible an expected time of arrival.



‘MIST’ is helpful so as not to forget anything

  • M – Mechanism of injury or medical complaint
  • I – Injuries found
  • S – Signs and vitals, both at the point of injury and progressively
  • T – Treatments and interventions your dog has received

Also, remember pulse, temperature and respiration rates all vary with time activity and types of injury/conditions. Get familiar with your dog’s normal vital signs and rates. If you don’t know these how can you expect to know when they are abnormal?
There is obviously far too much to discuss in one article. I will try to tackle some more specific topics in the subsequent articles. However, if you have any comments on this article, ideas for future topics or K9 medical experiences you would like to share please get in touch.

U.S. Army Spc. David Walls, of Warren, Mich., Mine Detection Dog Handler, 49th Engineer Detachment, oversees Sergeant Homer, a mine detection dog, as he performs a mine-proofing sweep at the Russian Grain Silo Combat Outpost, Kandahar, Afghanistan. The COP is the intended site of a 10 mega-watt power plant that will provide electricity to the western side of Kandahar. Walls and Homer are deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. (ISAF photo by TSgt Samuel Padilla/released)

Remember ………plan the day ahead, come home safe with your dog, and don’t end up on You Tube.
Stay safe with your dogs

2016 Revised Version


Simon G. Newbery BSc (Hons) BVetMed MSc Forensic Science MRCVS
E mail k9tems@talktalk.net or greensidevetsbarnsley@gmail.com

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