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How to treat your dog or cat for SHOCK

By Dr. Andrew Jones

Exactly what to do to help your pet survive on the way to the emergency veterinarian.

Shock occurs in a number of ways, from Car accidents, Bite Wounds, Bleeding, Hyperthermia… the list is HUGE.

Because it can happen in so many ways, you should know how to initially treat your dog for shock. Study the article carefully, because there is a good chance that you will need to be treating your pet for shock – emergencies happen!


This is a life-threatening condition, which occurs as a result of a serious injury or illness. It can progress to collapse and death.

Pale or white gums

Examine the gums by gently lifting the upper lid to expose the gums. Sometimes the gums are pigmented so look right around the mouth. Dogs such as the Chow Chow are impossible to assess as they have naturally pigmented gums. If the gums are pale or white your dog needs urgent veterinary attention.

Rapid heart rate and a weak rapid pulse

The heart rate often exceeds 150 beats/minute.

Rapid breathing

Your dog may appear woozy and weak. They often have difficulty standing.


Shock occurs when there is collapse of the circulatory system (made up of the heart, blood vessels and blood) due to:

Blood loss
Bleeding can be external or internal. Blood can be lost into the chest between the ribs and the lungs, into the abdomen around the organs or into the organs themselves, such as the bladder. There may be no obvious signs the bleeding has occurred. The volume of blood in the vessels then becomes insufficient for the body’s needs.

Fluid loss
Fluids lost to the body through, for example, vomiting and diarrhea are drawn from the entire body including the blood, causing dehydration and loss of blood volume. Many Parvovirus cases present in shock.

Decreased blood pressure

Due to pain, spinal cord injury, infection or poisoning.


TO THE VET ASAP. Any sign of shock requires urgent veterinary care with IV Fluids. Apply some of the following solutions while you transport your dog to the vet.

Check breathing and heart beat. If you can see the chest rise and fall then she is breathing. If not, perform rescue breathing. Wrap your hands around your pets muzzle (their mouth is closed), and breath into their nose. The chest should rise. Give 15 breaths per minute (one every 4 seconds). If the chest doesn’t rise, then proceed to the Heimlich.

The next step is to feel for a heart beat by placing your hand behind the left elbow on the chest. If the heart has stopped, then begin CPR. The quick summary is performing 5 heart compressions and 1 rescue breath. You should be giving 80-100 compressions per minute.

STOP THE BLEEDING. Apply direct pressure to the wound. Use whatever is available- gauze, soft cloth, or a towel. Don’t remove the cloth if it soaks through- apply another on top and continue the pressure.

KEEP HIM WARM. Hot water bottles filled with warm water can be placed around your dog especially against the stomach. Do not use boiling water. Wrap the bottles up in towels to prevent burns. Wrap your dog loosely in a blanket or a jacket. The disrupted circulation can cause hypothermia making the shock even worse.

SOME SWEETENING. Dog’s with signs of shock often have low blood sugar. In these cases, raising blood sugar is helpful. Rub honey or corn syrup on your dog’s gums.

STABILIZE FRACTURES. Sometimes it is not possible to transport your dog straight away. If this is the case then it is important to make your dog as comfortable and as pain free as possible. For instance if your dog has broken its leg, especially if it is a large dog and will need to be able to walk to get itself into a car, splinting the leg will help control pain and help to manage to degree of shock. Do not give any pain killers without advice from a veterinarian.

HOMEOPATHIC SHOCK REMEDY. An effective pain remedy that is safe for dogs and cats is Arnica. The dose is 2 30C tablets twice daily.

Dr Andrew J


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Topics: Cat Care, Cat Health, Dog Care, Dog Health, Pet Care, Pet health | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “How to treat your dog or cat for SHOCK”

  1. Avatar Roberta Barnes Says:
    May 27th, 2011 at 5:13 am

    I have an healthy happy young dog, but accidents do happen.
    I practice complementary natural healing, which I teach people to do on the way to the ER.
    Thank you for giving me more things I can combine with Japanese Usui Reiki while on route to a Vet ER if the need ever happens for my best friend or another dog.

  2. Avatar Katie Says:
    May 28th, 2011 at 3:25 am

    When my dog castrated a couple of years ago he woke up in a lot of pain. I rung the vet to ask what to do and she suggested to give one half paracetamol. My dog went immediately into shock and collapsed. I used an ancient remedy by putting wet towels around his feet and after one minute he recovered. I have since changed the vet but I don’t understand the attitude of vets when they castrate a dog, they don’t give painkillers. I they would be castrated, they’d be screaming for painkillers.

  3. Avatar Micheline Says:
    June 17th, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Mon chien a justement été castré lundi le 13 juin dernier 9h. matin, mâle 5 ans, et je l’ai presque perdu, il ne se réveillait pas,puisqu’il n’avait pas de surveillance à la clinique durant la nuit, je l’ai amené chez moi avec le I.V. vers 20 heures, et j’ai dû passé la nuit à le réchauffer, dès que j’arrêtais, environ 1 1/2 h. il refroidissait en bas de 37°C et je recommençais avec un séchoir à cheveux, des couvertes chauffantes, de l’hydratation avec une seringue dans la bouche, à chaque fois j’en profitais pour le retourner, et il a enfin repris connaissance 15 heures plus tard mais ne pouvait pas se lever, 20 heures après l’anesthésie,il avait envie d’uriner et il a décidé de se lever, très faible, difficulté à marcher. il ne semblait pas souffrant mais ne voulait tout simplement pas réagir. Si je l’avais laissé à la clinique sans surveillance, je l’aurais perdu en shock causé par l’hypo. grâce aux bons conseils du dr. Jones,et de mon éleveure j’ai sû quoi faire et aujourd’hui mon pointer est debout et en forme. Gros merci Micheline


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM