Dog Shock: Recognition and Emergency Treatment

Dog shock is a term that is often used incorrectly. It means more than just that uncomfortable feeling you get after an accident. Dog shock is a medical condition that can be dangerous if left untreated. Here's how you can provide emergency first aid treatment.

1) Recognize the Symptoms of Shock in Dogs

When your dog goes into shock, it means that his circulation is greatly reduced. This deprives your dog's brain of oxygen and can be fatal if not treated. Here are some of the signs of shock in dogs:

  • Weakness, convulsions, and collapsing
  • Dullness and depression
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale mouth, lips and eyelids
  • Sudden cooling of the skin, legs and mouth
  • Rapid, but weak pulse (you can check your dog's pulse by palpitating the femoral artery, inside the thigh, on the groin, with the tips of two finger)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fixed stare
  • Dilated pupils

2) Call Your Vet

Time is of the essence once your dog goes into shock. If possible, call your vet or emergency veterinary clinic right away; if you can't take your dog to the vet immediately, then describe your dog's shock symptoms to the vet in detail and get his personal opinion. Dog shock can be very complex, especially as it usually accompanies serious injury. Individual cases vary widely.

3) Perform First Aid

Whether or not you're taking your dog to the vet immediately, you'll need to perform some first aid maneuvers. Here they are:

  • Wrap your dog in a blanket or towel to conserve body heat. Don't apply any heat.
  • If your dog is unconscious, keep his head on a level with, or lower than, the rest of his body.
  • Cover any open wounds with a clean, damp cloth. You may rinse away debris from any open wounds with clean, warm water.
  • Gently massage your dog's body and legs to help maintain circulation. Please refrain from massaging any limbs or areas which may be injured.
  • Speak soothingly to your dog; reassure him; try to keep him calm. Remain relaxed yourself; your dog will read your body language and tense body language could increase his anxiety.

4) If You Need to Perform CPR

If your dog is unconscious and you can't detect a heartbeat, you may need to perform CPR. To perform CPR on a dog, place him on his right side on a firm surface. Put the fingers of one hand on each side of his heart (on the mid to upper chest region). Compress, firmly, but not so hard that you cause further injury.

Repeat the compressions 80 to 100 times a minute. Inflate the lungs by inhaling into your dog's mouth and nose every ten to fifteen compressions.

5) If You Can't Get to A Vet

If you can't get to a vet, call for advice anyway. Your vet might recommend feeding a dosage of a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda every thirty minutes for two or three hours to help rehydrate your dog. Don't feed anything, however, until you talk to a vet. Never administer fluids to an animal who is unconscious, vomiting or convulsing.

Record your dog's pulse and breathing rate every thirty minutes, to show to the vet when possible.