Recognizing Shock in Pets

Sleeping Dog

Shock is a life-threatening condition in animals. It requires immediate veterinary treatment.

Shock can be caused by sudden illness, dehydration, accidents, bites, burns, poisoning. Early signs are sometimes difficult to see.

One of the first symptoms of shock is an elevated heart rate. Normal heart rates are:

  • Kittens – 180-220 beats per minute; Cats – 110-130 beats per minute
  • Puppies – 70-120 beats per minute; Dogs – 70-120 beats per minute, small dogs sometimes a bit higher at 140 beats per minute.

If the pet’s gums are pale, blue, white, suspect shock. Normal gum color is pink. Check eye tissues for any color changes too. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration.

Increasing signs of shock can be irregular or low heart rate, lethargy, depression, below normal rectal temperature and the body can feel cold, glazed eyes.

If your pet has been in an accident, seek veterinary care as soon as possible even if s/he is acting normally.

If the pet is bleeding, apply pressure to the area. If there is a fracture, cover it. Cover the pet with blankets to prevent body heat loss.

Try making a sling with a towel or blanket or use a flat board to transport the pet to the hospital.

Do not offer the pet food, water or medication. Don’t let an injured pet walk in case there is internal bleeding.

Sometimes injured or frightened pets will lash out at whoever is attending them. If the pet is not vomiting and/or is breathing easily, you may want to use a muzzle to avoid injury to yourself.

Immediate veterinary attention can make the difference in a pet’s recovery.

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