How to Treat Your Dog for Shock
Going into shock can be fatal for dogs, so you need to be able to recognise the warning signs and act immediately.Shock tactics
Shock is a term applied loosely and often incorrectly. In both human and animal terms, it is much more serious than the slight feeling of malaise that occurs after a minor accident or fright and is often called 'shock'.
Going into shock means a lack of blood circulating around your dog's system, which can be fatal. If you suspect your dog is going into shock, contact your vet immediately.The warning signs
How to take your dog's pulse
- Weakness, convulsions or collapse - caused by the brain being starved of oxygen
- Dullness and depression
- Pale mouth, lips and eyelid colour
- Coolness of the skin, legs and inside of the mouth
- Rapid, but weak pulse (may be over 160 to180 beats per minute for a small dog and 140 beats per minute for a large to medium dog)
- Rapid breathing
- Fixated stare with dilated pupils
What to do if your dog is in shock
- Look for the femoral artery, which is located inside the thigh, on the groin.
- When your dog is relaxed, put the ball of two fingers inside the thigh and feel the pulse.
- With slim dogs, it's a little easier: you can feel the heartbeat if you place your finger over the heart behind the left elbow.
If you can't get to a vet
- Call your vet immediately. Time is vital and intravenous fluids could be required
- Wrap your dog in a blanket or towel to conserve body heat, but don't apply any direct heat
- If your dog is unconscious, keep the head as low as, or lower than, the rest of the body
- Cover any extensive wounds with a damp, clean cloth
- Gently massage the legs and muscles to maintain circulation - unless you suspect these may be fractured or broken. Keep the dog calm
- If you cannot detect a heartbeat by placing the dog on its right side on a firm surface, provide artificial respiration or CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation):
- Put the fingers of one hand on each side of the mid to upper chest area (over the heart) and compress firmly, but NOT too hard, then release the pressure. Compressing with too much force may cause additional injuries
- Repeat 80 to 100 times a minute, inflating the lungs via artificial respiration once every 10 -15 compressions
- To learn more about canine resuscitation and CPR, click here
- If you can't get your dog to a vet immediately, contact the practice by phone for advice before you provide any treatment yourself. Shock, generally accompanied by injury, can be complex and contradictory. Explain your dog's symptoms very carefully, in case specific action is required.
- If your dog is conscious, your vet may advise you to mix a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with one litre of water, and spoon-feed the correct amount (depending on the size of your dog) every 30 minutes for two to three hours. But speak to a vet before feeding anything.
- Never give anything by mouth if your dog is unconscious, convulsing or vomiting.
- Take your dog's pulse and breathing rate every 30 minutes, keeping a record for when the vet can get to you.
- Note any blood in urine, or other danger signals, and report these details to the vet.