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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Bill Krom

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First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Coma is a depressed level of consciousness. It begins with confusion, progresses through stupor, and ends up with complete loss of consciousness. A dog in a coma is insensitive to pain and cannot be awakened.


Your dog will be completely unresponsive, unconscious, while still maintaining a pulse.


Coma occurs with oxygen deprivation, brain swelling, brain tumor, encephalitis, and poisoning. Many diseases that cause seizures progress to coma. Following a head injury with cerebral concussion, coma can occur without progressing through the earlier stages.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is a common cause of coma. it tends to occur in toy-breed puppies and adult hunting dogs after a long day in the field. A common iatrogenic cause is giving too much insulin to a diabetic dog. Another cause of coma is prolonged hypothermia.

Coma related to high fever ans heat stroke is a serious complication that leads to permanent brain damage and is usually preceded by seizures. Vigorous efforts must be made to bring down the fever. Coma is also especially ominous when it is associated with brain trauma or when it occurs in the late stages of kidney or liver disease.

Common poisons that may cause coma are ethylene glycol (antifreeze), barbiturates, kerosene, turpentine, arsenic, cyanide, orgaophosphates, plants, chocolate, and lead. A dog found in a coma in a closed car or in an air tight space may have smothered or developed carbon monoxide poisoning.


Diagnosis is made by observing the dog's condition.


First determine the level of consciousness and whether the dog is alive. If the dog shows no signs of life, begin CPR. An unconscious dog can choke on their vomitus, so pull out the tongue and clear the airway with your fingers, if the dog has a foreign body, such as a piece of meat, obstructing the airway, treat as described for Choking. Wrap the dog in a blanket and proceed to your veterinarian at once.


There is no prevention for this condition.


If you believe your pet is in a coma, bring the dog to an emergency clinic immediately.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

5 Comments For "Coma"



My little boy dropped my very tiny 1 year old Yorkie, she fell on her side and where she fell she did not move! My husband picked her up and put her on the sofa, her body was limp, eyes were wide open but unresponsive to our calls of trying to wake her! She had a heart beat but was not breathing so we immediatly started with cpr, we blew in to her nostrils, her heart beat would go fast then slow again and this carried on for a couple of minutes, she had a pulsebut we could not get her to breath for about 10. Minutes, then she passed away! Could you pls help me trry understand what had actually happened to her? She obviously hit her head when she fell, did she go straight into a coma and why did she stop breathing? I'm very heart broken and I just wish I could have saved herr somehow :(

May 21, 2012 at 8:31AM  Sign In or Join to Comment

Bill Krom

Bill Krom

This sounds like severe head trauma, causing shock, ultimately leading to death. Unfortunately, this is basically the same thing that happens to people in car wrecks with head trauma. Perhaps a larger breed dog would be a better choice for your household. Sorry for your loss, but there was not much you could have done to help your pup.

May 21, 2012 at 8:18PM  Sign In or Join to Comment



My dog Max was induced into a coma after suffering a brain bleed or hemorrhage that lead to a bad cluster seizure. Max was diagnosed with inoperable brain tumors in 2011 and underwent non-invasive cyberknife radiation treatment at the Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers NY. The cyber knife completely eliminated one of his tumors and shrank the other tumor, which we are extremely excited about! 4 weeks ago he had a cluster seizure and couldn't get out of it. Our veterinary neurologist induced the coma. They were hoping he'd come out of it within 5 days but he didn't. After 2 weeks in the hospital they inserted a feeding tube and Max was able to come home. In the last 2 weeks, he's become more aware of his surroundings, he sighs, and huffs, when he's frustrated. He's started to be able to use his legs to push again but isn't standing yet. He has a blog with videos and photos of his whole journey from the diagnosis of the brain tumors, to the cyberknife treatments, to his amazing recovery and chasing puppies (Max is 18 years old!) to the seizure and coma and now through his recovery again. We were told there was a very minimal chance he'd recover, but so far, so good! He's definitely making progress, it's very slow, but it is steady. If anyone is interested in reading more his blog is http://maxck.blogspot.com we're hoping this will be helpful for anyone else who has a dog going through brain tum

June 30, 2012 at 9:55AM  Sign In or Join to Comment



I had a 6 year old black lab x. It was a hot summer day and he was in the house all day and could go outside as he pleased. We were swimming that day too and everything was wonderful. The dogs were fine! Jesse, the black lab x, even got into the pool with us and sat on the step for a while. Then, after swimming for only a short while, we all went back inside. He stayed outside with a family member for only another 5 minutes or so. Then he just fell to his knees and looked shocked and confused and then collapsed. We tried mouth to mouth and unfortunately, improper CPR, as majority of us are never prepared for something like that until it's too late for at least 1 pet :( Lastly, his eyes dilated, and we assumed he had passed. We were too heart broken to care to ask the vet what went wrong. But today i still wonder, was it heat stroke? Can it happen that fast from only being outside a short while and in the pool!?! And then did he possibly slip into a coma when we foolishly gave up!?! I just never want this to happen again. I couldn't survive 2.

January 12, 2013 at 5:26PM  Sign In or Join to Comment



I took my 3 yr old dog for a long walk during the 30 min walk my dog was slowing down, he was very tired. Got him some water and showered him with cold water. Got in a comma still blinked but no movements from his neck down. I was giving him plenty of fluids. Suddenly, starts to wag his tail when I brought him his favorite coconut. Hours later starts to walk in very slow motion. I thought he was recuperating but after giving him Gatorade and hours of observing he does poop. While pooping he starts bleeding with diarrhea. After, a couple of minutes later he starts breathing slowly while praying; his breathing decreases leaving tears in my eyes waiting for a miracle to happen. Few minutes pass and he dies :( while I shed tears through my face dropping them on his chest. My poor baby what happened?

April 5, 2013 at 12:41AM  Sign In or Join to Comment



My mom's great dane went in for surgery to have her ear's cropped.. they found she was anemic and told my mom to get her on iron pills when she got home.. no big deal. Well the next thing they know, Moo (the great dane) flat lined. They did compressions to get her back and they did. They sedated her and she had a few seizures. Today they took her off the sedation but now she's in a coma, they don't know why. She's on an iv and all kinds of things and she's breathing on her own and all vitals are good. has anyone else shared this experience. we really would like some answers ):

April 25, 2013 at 7:15PM  Sign In or Join to Comment