First Aid: How to treat a dog for shock

Your dog may get a shock when your dog hears a firework go off or a loud noise, but going into shock is entirely different and in the worst cases can be fatal.

Going into shock is a physical reaction that affects the blood supply to your dog’s vital organs and is usually caused by a physical injury and even though the physical injury may not be life threatening, the trauma caused by your dog’s system going into shock as a result of the injury can be fatal.

Related: All articles on dog first aid.

Signs of shock

In the event of any injury or accident to your dog, check for signs of shock before dealing with the injury itself, unless if left, the injury will cause your dog to stop breathing, i.e. collapsed lung, bee or wasp sting in the mouth, foreign body lodged in the throat, in which case this should be dealt with first.

When your dog goes into shock, the blood flow slows down and therefore is not providing oxygen to the brain, this will result in your dog collapsing, or displaying signs of weakness, convulsing or losing consciousness altogether.

Check the colour of your dog’s gums, mouth and eyelids; these will appear pale, again because of the reduced blood flow.

This skin will feel cool to the touch and he may have a fixed stare and/or dilated pupils.

In some cases your dog may lose control of his bowels and/or bladder, if this happens check to make sure there is no blood in the stools or urine.

A fast, but weak pulse or 160-180 beats per minute for a small breed or 140 beats per minute for larger breeds.

What to do if your dog is in shock

These are the steps to follow if your dog is suffering shock:

  • Keep your dog warm by wrapping him in a blanket, do not use an outside heat source, you are intending to prevent your dog from losing his own body heat
  • In the case of an unconscious dog, keep the head lower than the torso.
  • Vigorously  massage legs (as long as there are no suspected injuries) to stimulate the circulation
  • If your dog stops breathing perform Animal CPR
  • Do not attempt to give your dog any food or water as this may result in him choking

If you intend to transport your dog to the vet enlist the help of a family member or friend so that the first aid above can be administered during the journey.

If you are calling the vet to come to you, again enlist the help of a family member or friend so that one person can make the call whilst the other carries out the necessary first aid.

The importance of getting your dog to the vet cannot be stressed enough, and if there is to be any delay the next best thing is to be speaking to a medical professional on the telephone who can advise you on what steps to take while you are waiting.

Never underestimate the power of remaining calm in these situations. Even if the dog is not your own, a calm controlled manner, gentle voice and reassuring tone can help calm the dog enough to help control the symptoms until professional help is available.

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Gina & David

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