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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Shock View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Shock is a life threatening condition that occurs when the body doesn't get enough oxygen. Adequate blood flow requires effective heart pumping, open, intact blood vessels, and sufficient blood volume to maintain flow and pressure.


Signs of early shock include panting, rapid heart rate, bounding pulses, and a bright red color to the mucous membranes of the lips, gums, and tongue. Many of these signs will be overlooked or considered mild - perhaps regarded as signs of a dog who overexerted himself. The later signs are when most owners notice and respond to their dog's condition. Signs of late shock (the signs most often seen) are pale skin and mucous membranes, a drop in body temperature, cold feet and legs, a slow respiratory rate, apathy and depression, unconsciousness, and a weak or absent pulse.


There are many causes of shock. Common causes are hemorrage, heart failure, anaphylactic (allergic) reactions, dehydration (heat stroke, vomiting, diarrhea), poisoning, and toxic shock associated with sepsis and peritonitis.


Diagnosis is made by evaluating the symptoms.


First, evaluate the situation. Is the dog breathing? Is there a heartbeat? What is the extent of the injury? Is the dog in shock? If so, proceed as follows:

  1. If the dog is not breathing, administer artificial respiration
  2. If there is no heartbeat, administer CPR
  3. If the dog is unconscious, check to be sure that the airway is open. Clear secretions from the mouth with your finders and a piece of cloth. Pull the tip of the tongue forward beyond the front teeth to make it easier for the dog to breathe. Keep the dogs head lower than his body by placing blankets beneath his hindquarters.
  4. Control bleeding
  5. Wrap the dog in a coat or blanket to keep him warm and protect injuries.
  6. Rub your pets gums with Karo syrup or honey - Pets who have gone into shock may have very low blood sugar levels. Raising blood sugar may be helpful in these cases. If you have time to find some, the quickest way to raise blood sugar levels is to rub a drop or two of Karo syrup or honey on the gums. It will be absorbed through the tissue almost immediately.
  7. Transport the dog to the nearest veterinary hospital.


To avoid aggravating the shock:

  • Calm the dog and speak soothingly
  • Allow the dog to assume the most comfortable position in which breathing is easiest. An animal will naturally adopt the position of least pain.
  • When possible, splint or support any broken bones before moving the dog.
  • All dogs who are unconscious or found lying down after an accident must be considered to have spinal cord injuries and should be handled accordingly.
  • Transport large dogs on a flat surface or in a hammock stretcher. Carry small dogs in a blanket with the injured parts protected.
  • Avoid using a muzzle except for short periods, such as when moving the dog from the scene of the accident into a car, or from a car into the veterinary clinic. Muzzling can interfere with breathing in some situations.


Contact your veterinarian with any questions you may have. If you think that your pet may be going into shock, perform first aid as described above and get to the nearest veterinary hospital 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

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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