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What to Do if Your Dog Collapses or Pass Out

Witnessing your beloved pet collapse or pass out can be a terrifying experience for dog owners. Understanding what to do in an emergency can significantly affect your furry friend's outcome. In this blog post, our vets in Woburn discuss common reasons for a dog's collapse, immediate actions to take, and preventive measures to ensure a safer environment for your pet.

Dog Collapse & Fainting

Collapse is a sudden loss of strength that causes your dog to fall to the ground, with or without loss of consciousness. Dogs who collapse but remain conscious may express confusion or anxiety.

Fainting, also known as passing out or syncope, is a sudden loss of consciousness that may be accompanied by defecation or urination. It can be preceded by symptoms such as staggering, disorientation, diarrhea, or general weakness and is considered a veterinary emergency.

Depending on the cause of the dog's collapse, they may recover quickly, jumping up and appearing perfectly normal. In other cases, they may stay in a lying position until assisted.

What To Do If Your Dog Collapses

If your dog loses consciousness but quickly recovers, contact your vet to inform them of the incident. Your veterinarian will advise whether an examination is necessary.

What to Do if a Dog is Unconscious

Remain calm and evaluate the situation.

Make sure that your pup is in a safe space away from danger. Use a calm voice to reassure your pet, and if necessary, use a blanket to move your dog.

Examine your dog for any clinical signs that may help your vet determine the cause of its collapse.

  • Was your dog behaving normally before the collapse?
  • Is your dog struggling to breathe?
  • Are they bleeding?
  • Is your dog's abdomen swollen? 

Call your vet immediately during regular hours to explain the situation and arrange an emergency appointment. If your usual veterinary clinic is closed, contact your nearest animal emergency hospital or head straight over.

Note: An unconscious dog may wake up feeling confused or anxious. This can lead to uncharacteristic behavior, including aggression. Use extra caution when transporting your pup to the vet for care.

Possible Causes of Collapse in Dogs

There are numerous reasons a dog might collapse, mostly cardiovascular or neurological.

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • Arrhythmias
  • Heart Failure
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Bradycardia (abnormally slow heartbeat)
  • Tachycardia (abnormally fast heartbeat)
  • Low cardiac output

Neurological Conditions

  • Vascular disease
  • Narcolepsy
  • Vestibular disease
  • Brain tumor

Other Conditions

  • Heartworm disease
  • Cancer
  • Bloat
  • Acute blood loss or hemorrhage
  • Low blood sugar
  • Drug side effects
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Heatstroke

Treatment for Collapsing in Dogs

When dogs collapse and are taken to the vet, they undergo a thorough examination and a series of diagnostic tests to determine the underlying causes. The vet may take X-rays, perform an ultrasound, and conduct a CT or MRI scan. Additionally, the dog may receive intravenous fluids and be prescribed medication. In some cases, collapse may be benign and require no treatment. Diagnosing the cause of short or infrequent episodes of collapse can be challenging, and this may require more in-depth investigations from a referral clinician or specialist.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your dog collapsed or passed out? Our team at Woburn Animal Hospital is here to help. Contact our Woburn emergency vets right away.

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Woburn Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of your pet. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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