How To Treat a Dog in Shock

One of the scariest things that can happen to you as a pet owner is experience your dog going into shock. Shock can kill, swiftly; it can leave an animal with permanent damage to the brain and/or central nervous system, or, if you are alert and aware, a dog can recover from shock and go on as if nothing had ever happened.  The signs are not as obvious as you think. The obvious ones are:

  • Convulsions
  • Collapse
  • Loss of Consciousness
The not so obvious signs are:
  • Loss of color in the lips, mouth, the areas around the eyes
  • Appear to be staring off into space
  • Seem to be suddenly depressed or weak
  • Significant drop in body temperature
  • Heartbeat and respiration can become rapid and weak
If you are a dog owner, following these steps could save your dog's life.

Step 1

 Call your vet. If you think you dog is going into shock, the first thing you should do is call your vet - IMMEDIATELY!

Step 2

Check your dog's body temperature. While you are making the call, check for a drop in body temperature by feeling your dog's skin, especially at the extremities and inside the mouth. When a body is going into shock, circulation begins to shut down, robbing the body of heat and the brain, heart and other vital organs of oxygen. Look to see if there is a paleness to the gums and eyelids and try to get your dog's attention to ascertain how responsive he is.

Step 3

Check your dog's pulse. The next thing you do is check your dog's pulse. Checking a dog's pulse is simple if the dog is calm or otherwise relatively immobile. The femoral artery is located inside the thigh, near the groin area. You can use your ring and middle finger and lightly press the ball of the fingers against the skin, moving them around until you feel the pulse. Count. On some dogs it is as easy or easier to check for heart rate directly above the source, holding your fingers to the rib cage just behind the dog's left elbow.

Step 4

Get the blood circulating. Get the dog wrapped up in anything warm that's at hand. The quicker the better. Your coat, a blanket, the hoodie in the backseat of the car, just conserve that body heat. Massaging your dog's muscles and legs may help keep some circulation going, and it will usually be reassuring to him as well. Do take care, however, to be aware of any fractures or broken bones, especially in the ribcage. Shock is bad. Shock with a punctured lung is much, much worse.

Step 5

If needed administer CPR. You may need to give your dog CPR if you can't detect a heartbeat. A working knowledge of how to administer CPR is always a good thing to have ahead of time, hoping you'll never need that knowledge, but if you keep a level head, you can manage it even if you've never practiced before by using your good sense and remembering what you've read about how to do it.

  • Lay your dog on his right side on a steady, flat surface.
  • With your fingers, check the mouth and throat for obstructions. Make sure the tongue is laying within the mouth where it won't get punctured by the dog's teeth when you hold his mouth closed.
  • Using your fingers, placed on each side of the ribcage over the heart, compress
    firmly and release. Take care not to compress too hard; remember, you're excited and scared so you likely will be running on high adrenaline and it can be easy to use more force than you realize.
  • Repeat ten or fifteen times, at a cadence of approximately 80 to 100 times per
  • Hold the dog's mouth closed, hand around muzzle to keep any air from leaking out, and administer artificial respiration via the dog's nose.
  • Repeat pattern of 10 - 15 compressions, then respiration until the dog is breathing
    his heart is beating on its own.

These steps are what could keep your dog alive if he ever goes into shock. Just follow these steps until the vet arrives.

Written by Collin Walker of Pet-Super-Store - where you can find Dog Tracking Collars such as the Garmin Astro.

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