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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Collapse View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

When your dog or cat suddenly falls over and can't get up, you must be a detective and find the cause of the collapse.


Your pet is acting dazed and confused and falling over, unable to stand.


Pets who chew electrical wires can have delayed reactions to the shock and collapse up to an hour later when their lungs fill up with fluid. Some ingested poisons can knock pets out. A collapsed lung, internal bleeding from injury or from a cancerous growth, getting too hot or too cold, and allergic reaction to a bug bite, heart disease, and many other things can stop pets in their tracks.


It may take specialized tests to figure out the cause and get the right treatment. First aid will help regardless of the cause, and it can save your pets life.


  1. Help your pet breathe - When a pet has collapsed, be prepared to perform artificial respiration and/or CPR if she stops breathing or her heart stops. For artificial respiration, put your mouth directly over your pet's nose and breathe into the nose. Gie 2 quick breaths, then wait to see if her chest rises. Continue to give 15 - 20 breaths a minute until she starts breathing on her own or until you reach medical help. While performing this procedure, check every 30 seconds or so to see if her heart is still beating.
  2. Be ready to perform CPR - Listen or feel for the heartbeat behind your pet's left elbow. If you can't hear or feel the heartbeat, begin CPR. Perform 5 heart compressions and then give a breath. For cats and small dogs, cup your hand over the point of the chest, with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other, and squeeze in a "coughlike" manner, compressing the chest about 1/2 inch. The goal is 80 - 100 compressions per minute.

    Lay a larger dog on his side on a hard surface and press on the highest part of his chest. This changes the pressure most significantly within the chest cavity, and it is this increasing and decreasing pressure that actually moves the blood forward. Place your hands on top of each other against the chest, then press down to compress about 25 - 50%.
  3. Try something sweet - If your pet is breathing and her heart is beating, but she is still collapsed after 2 - 3 minutes, offer her 2 - 3 tablespoons of Karo syrup or honey and go to the vet. This will help counteract low blood sugar, which can develop with many kinds of organ failures, heat stroke, hypothermia, and even shock, any of which can cause collapse. If she can't swallow, rub a small amount of Karo or honey on the inside of her lips and gums so that her body will absorb it through the mucous membranes. If the collapse is due to low blood sugar alone, you will see a dramatic improvement in only 10 minutes or so, but in any case, have your pet examined as soon as possible.
  4. Watch for shock symptoms - Any kind of accident or bleeding injury can plunge your pet into shock so that she collapses as her circulation fails.She will also have pale gums and rapid breathing. Wrap her in a blanket to keep her warm. You can also put a drop or two of Karo syrup or honey on your pet's gums to help keep her conscious.
  5. Keep your pet warm - Pets who get very cold collapse when their body temperatures fall below normal. They may get so cold that they stop shivering, and their gums turn gray or blue. Wrap your pet in a warm blanket and get her to the vet immediately.

  6. Keep your pet cool - Heatstroke may also cause collapse. This typically happens on a very hot day. Pets pant, feel very hot, and have bright red gums. Use a rectal thermometer lubricated with petroleum jelly to take your pet's temperature. If it is 105F or lower, you can treat her at home, and she probably won't need medical attention as long as her temperature is lowered quickly. You may want to take her to the vet just in case. Temperatures in excess of 106F need emergency treatment even after first aid. Cool your pet off to 103F before you head for the veterinarian by using cool (not cold!) water from a sink or hose.
  7. Check for ticks - Pets who are bitten by ticks can suffer paralysis from a neurotoxin in the tick saliva. Dogs are affected most often, but cats and people are not immune. Dogs first become weak, then collapse and are unable to walk. If your pet collapses, go to the vet immediately - don't take the time to remove the ticks. For more information see Tick Paralysis

  8. Be alert for back injury - Move your pet as little as possible to prevent further damage to the spine. Put a small pet on a rigid surface like a TV tray or bread board or even inside a rigid box or pet carrier. A large dog should be moved on a wooden plank or even an ironing board. The next best thing to use is a blanket stretcher. Put the dog on the blanket so that 2 people can lift him by grasping the ends of the material to make a hammock type conveyance.


Prevention for this condition is based around avoiding the cause of collapse.


Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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