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Treating a Dog in Shock After a Traumatic Experience

First of all, WHAT IS SHOCK? Shock is a series of physiological responses to an injury, trauma, or accident. It is a state of collapse, that is, the body's circulatory system begins to shut down. Severe damage, even death, can result. Severe stress caused by injury, auto accident, infection, heat prostration, dehydration, or blood loss, any of these can put your dog into shock.

Some signs that your dog may be in shock are a rapid heartbeat; little or irregular pulse; and the body temperature will be below the normal level. Check your dog's mouth-the tongue may appear curled and gums will be pale, almost a gray color.

If you believe your dog is in shock, QUICK ACTION IS ESSENTIAL. Call your VET immediately to say that you are transporting your dog; then go! (If you have someone to be your "driver" you will be free to assist your dog during the trip.) Intravenous fluids and other medications must be administered as soon as possible, so get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Any animal that suffers a traumatic experience can go into "shock". When a puppy is in a state of shock their pulse will be fast but weak and their breathing shallow and irregular. Their skin will be pale, cold to the touch but they will sweat profusely. To help the circulation of the blood to the brain you should lay the puppy dog with its head slightly lower than the rest of its body. Do not give the dog anything to drink until the veterinarian has checked it. Never give a puppy in shock any alcohol to drink. If the puppy is very cold you can cover it with something light to keep its body temperature at normal. If possible, seek immediate medical attention as shock can sometimes be a symptom of something life threatening.

Resuscitating Your Puppy

Gently pull the dog's tongue to one side of his mouth. Remove any foreign object which could obstruct the airway. If he was rescued from the water and is not breathing, place his head lower than the rest of his body to help remove the water from his lungs. Next, lay him on his right side and place his head in a slightly upward position as if he were looking forward. This will facilitate the maximum amount of air delivered from you. Cup your hands around his nose as if making a funnel. Put your lips to your hands and blow a steady amount of air for three seconds without stopping. This function should begin to fill his lungs with air. Rest for about two seconds and repeat again. Continue until the dog is able to breath on his own again.

Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation

If your puppy's heat stops beating, give him cardiac massages immediately by:

  • Place the palm of your right hand over the dog's left side of his chest (looking down, this would look to be to YOUR right), just about even with his elbow. Place your left hand on top of your right and push with the amount of force used on a human baby. Make downward thrusts as if pushing toward the dogs head.
  • Push on the dog three times very quickly and firmly and then do CPR on the dog. You should alternate this in the following way: pump, pump, pump, breath etc. Each pump should be about a second each.
  • Repeat this whole sequence fifteen to twenty times per minute until you are able to hear the dog's heart beat. When you are able to feel the dogs heart beat, stop pumping and continue giving CPR to the dog while you are rushing to the veterinary clinic.