Shock in Dogs: Types, Causes and Symptoms

Pet owners are rarely prepared for the scary experience of seeing their dog go into shock. This is not a common problem, but quick action when it occurs can save your dog’s life. There are many reasons that a dog might go into shock and owners need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this condition before their dog is too sick to be helped.

If you have never seen a dog in shock, you need to learn what the symptoms look like. Quick action is the difference between saving your dog’s life and not being able to help them in most cases. This is always an emergency situation and you should never wait until morning or for a few hours to see if your dog will improve if they are showing symptoms of shock.

If you are ready to learn more about shock in dogs, you need to read on!

shock in dogs

What Can Cause Shock in Dogs?

Dogs can get shock from lots of different things. The most common issue is related to eating something poisonous or getting stung by a bee and having an allergic reaction. These kinds of allergic or toxic responses can lead to shock quite quickly and dramatically.

Other kinds of shock can happen if your dog exerts too much when it is hot and gets dangerously overheated. Extreme cold can also cause shock in dogs. Another common reason for shock in dogs can be linked to choking on something and going into shock due to the trauma of reduced oxygen and stress.

What Are the Symptoms of Shock?

Dogs that are in shock display very specific symptoms that you need to know about. Recognizing these symptoms as shock right away can help to save your dog’s life. If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, you need to get them to the vet right away.

Shock in the early stages will often include these symptoms:

·         Bright red gums

·         Rapid pulse

·         Uneasy or anxious behavior

·         Intense panting

·         Loud or shallow breathing

More advanced stages of shock will have more obvious symptoms:

·         Pale blue color to gums, lips and even eyelids

·         Pulse hard to find or inconsistent

·         Weakness and lethargy

·         Vomiting or diarrhea

·         Cold legs and feet

·         Collapse

·         White and mottled gums

·         Glazed over eyes

·         Lack of response to verbal commands

·         Coma

The progression of these symptoms can happen very quickly as your dog progresses through the stages of its shock reaction. Some dogs will not show any early warning symptoms and will go straight into the more serious stages of shock. You should not take any of these symptoms lightly and should take your dog to the vet right away.

Types of Shock

There are various kinds of shock in dogs and they can display their own unique symptoms.

1.       Circulatory Shock

This kind of shock occurs when there is a reduction of effectiveness in the circulation of the blood. This can be due to an allergic reaction, a heart problem, or extreme cold. This kind of shock can appear very violent and sudden, or it might come on more slowly with some of the early symptoms of shock being the only sign at first.

2.       Cardiogenic Shock

This kind of shock takes place when the circulating volume of blood is greatly reduced due to heart failure, stroke, or other circulatory conditions. This is a kind of shock that can be quite sudden in dogs that are younger and have sudden heart attacks, or it might be seen in older dogs with other comorbidities.

This shock will often be quite sudden and will skip the early stages or signs of the shock process. Dogs with this kind of shock will often collapse right away and show signs of extreme distress from the onset.

3.       Hypovolemic Shock

This kind of shock is related to blood loss through hemorrhage. This can happen due to a wound or an internal bleeding condition as well as issues related to trauma. This is more common in dogs that have been hit by cars or in animals that have been hurt while they were away from the home and have had to cover a long distance while losing blood to get back to their house. This kind of shock can be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea when internal bleeding is the reason for the shock.

4.       Distributive Shock

This kind of shock happens when the blood vessels contract abruptly. This can be due to an allergic reaction or a toxic reaction to a substance that has been ingested. This kind of shock can lead to toxic shock quite quickly if the dog is not given help to stop the vasoconstriction that is preventing blood flow throughout the body.

This is often a very visible and easy to identify kind of shock and typically does not show early warning signs. This kind of shock is often the most critical as far as getting your dog to the vet to get help to stop the shock process. Many dogs with this kind of shock have less than a half-hour to get to a vet before they will be too sick to help.

Call Us Right Away If Your Dog is in Shock

If you have never had to help care for a dog that has gone into shock, you should consider yourself lucky. This is a very scary health condition and when it is not caught in the early stages, it can lead to death or long-term health issues for your dog. Dog owners need to recognize the symptoms of this condition readily and get their dog to an emergency vet right away in order to have a better chance at securing a good outcome.

Shock is not a common problem in dogs, but it is a very life-threatening one. Now that you know how to recognize the early symptoms of this problem, you will be able to make sure that your dog doesn’t succumb to shock. Caring for a dog with shock is always an emergency and the sooner that you recognize the signs and symptoms, the more likely you will be to get your dog the right help to save their life. For more information about shock in dogs or if your dog is in shock, contact our team at North Central Veterinary Emergency Center right away. We have 3 locations in Mishawaka, Westville and Highland, all staffed with expert and compassionate teams to care for your pet.

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