We are all well aware of the risks to our soldiers who have been deployed in combat zones around the world. There is another group of military “personnel” who are often forgotten, and these are the Military Working Dogs.

Dogs are used in combat areas to protect an area such as a checkpoint, to attack intruders, and to sniff out explosives. Theirs is a dangerous job, and they are at risk of several specific types of injuries.

1. Penetrating wounds. Bullet wounds and flying shrapnel from explosions can cause wounds to the chest and abdomen that pass right through the skin and into the body cavity. Abdominal wounds can result in damage to internal organs and infection. Wounds to the chest can cause respiratory failure as the chest fills with air and prevents the lungs from expanding.

2. Blast injuries. Bomb explosions cause compression of air filled parts of the body, namely the lungs, ears and gastro-intestinal tract. Even though there are no outward signs of injury, the result can be as severe as if the dog had been hit in the chest by a car.

3. Fractures and crush injuries. Explosions can be powerful enough to throw a dog through the air. This can result in fractures to the legs. If a heavy item lands on them after they fall, they can suffer from crushed ribs and other internal organ damage.

4. Burns. Where there are bombs, there are often fires and explosions. Military Dogs can suffer severe burns while in on active duty in a war zone.

5. Toxins. Herbicides and insecticides are a part of life in military zones, and they may be dangerous to the dogs working in that area. Explosions and fires may release toxic fumes that can irritate their respiratory tract.

In Summary – An injured K9 may not have immediate access to emergency veterinary care, so you as a handler need to be trained in canine first aid. This can keep them alive long enough to be transported to a veterinary hospital.