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Is Your Dog in Shock?

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The Silent Killer of Dogs

After an accident or injury your dog is at risk of going into shock. Shock is the real silent killer. Many people think shock is just a dog being uncomfortable or a little stunned after a life-threatening incident, but shock is a very serious medical condition that can be caused by almost any traumatic event in your dog’s life. Your dog needs URGENT medical attention! You may think everything is fine and all of a sudden, your dog goes downhill FAST! what you do after such an injury can make all the difference in the world.

There are many causes of shock. It can be a result of a preexisting medical condition or a bodily injury such as being hit by a car. Regardless of the cause, when your dog goes into shock his body’s circulatory system begins to fail. The heart struggles to get oxygen to all parts of the body and vital organs. As the blood pressure continues to fall systems begin to fail. If not stabilized it will continue to deteriorate and subsequently lead to an untimely death.

After an Accident

You ALWAYS want to have a vet check out your pooch after a serious accident. The scary part is you need to make sure that your furbaby gets to the vet safely. Shock can set in and progress incredibly fast

First Stages

In the beginning stages of shock your dog may be acting completely normal. He may not feel any injuries because of the surge of adrenaline pumping through his system. Since you cannot rely on any outward signs at this stage it is absolutely important to check their vital signs, heart rate, respiratory rate, mucous membranes, and temperature. These readings will help you understand if your dog is in any immediate danger. At this time signs are going to be slight so knowing your dogs baseline vitals is important. His gums may begin to turn a bright red, he may begin to breath more shallowly, and his heart rate might even elevate. However, he may also appear absolutely normal.

Middle Stage

As shock progresses outward signs become more obvious. You can tell clearly that something is wrong as your pup becomes increasingly weak and lethargic. His pulse may be weak and hard to find whereas his heart rate will be more elevated. Blood flow to the extremities is low therefor the legs and mouth may begin to cool. Due to the lack of oxygen you will notice that their gums, lips, and eyelids will begin to become pale or bluish.

Late Stage

This is the stage where the body begins to shut down. Instead of weak and lethargic your dog will enter a stupor and slowly into a coma as the brain function becomes more and more impaired. The heart rate at this stage will become irregular as the heart muscle itself begins to fail. Their mucous membranes will turn white or even mottled and their temperature will drop dangerously low, and their eyes will become glassed over with dilated pupils. Breathing becomes either slow and shallow or rapid and deep.

What to DO When Your Dog is in Shock!

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  1. Keep Dog Calm– If you panic they will panic. You need to stay calm! Keep reassuring them with a soft soothing voice.
  2. Restrain Dog– Regardless if the dog is noticeably injured DO NOT let him just run around. There may be internal damage that will be exacerbated by not restraining your pooch.
  3. Check Airway– Make sure there is nothing preventing your dog from breathing. If there is a blockage remove it. Use the Heimlich Maneuver if needed.
  4. Conserve Body Heat– Wrap your pup in a blanket to keep his body temperature up. Foil blankets work the best.
  5. Head Elevation– By keeping their head lower than their rear end will help preserve blood flow to the brain. You can use towels or blankets rolled up under their hips.
  6. Protect Injuries– You DO NOT want your dog to further injure himself.
  7. Administer First Aid– Your job is to make sure you can get your dog to the vet safe and sound.

DON’T DO’S When Dogs is in Shock!        

  1. DO NOT assume that your dog is fine.
  2. DO NOT assume that your dog is going to behave. Just because Fido is a loving affectionate dog normally does not mean that under this type of stress, both physical and mental, that he is going to be himself. Even the most even tempermented dog can become unpredictable in these situations.
  3. DO NOT apply artificial heat- Artificial heat can burn your dog. Also, it can make them too warm causing their blood vessels to dilate and their blood pressure will lower quicker as a consequence.
  4. DO NOT give your dog any medication with our consulting your veterinarian. Drugs have unknown side effects and may worsen the situation.
  5. DO NOT put water in their mouths. Your dogs’ mouth may become dry but they are in distress and may not be able to swallow efficiently. By putting water in their mouths, you run the risk of them aspirating (taking the water into their lungs).
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It is unsettling to see your baby in pain, human or not. But keeping a calm clear head will help you best care for them when they are injured. Quick and decisive action needs to be taken in any emergency and the better equipped you are with knowledge and supplies the better the outcome tends to be. It’s ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry. Arming yourself with the knowledge and tools to handle any situation will help you stay calm and help Fido too.

Furthermore, there are many first aid classes that are offered over the internet or even at your local SPCA or Humane Societies. Happy learning!  

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