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What to Do if Your Dog Collapses or Passes Out

If your dog has collapsed it is a clear sign of an underlying issue. What causes dogs to collapse? What should you do if your dog passes out? Read on to find out.

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, passing out, or syncope is a collapse that causes a loss of consciousness and may be accompanied by defecation or urination. Fainting can occur after other 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 very 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 has passed out but recovers quickly contact your vet to let them know what has happened. Your veterinarian can let you know whether an examination is called for.

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 use a blanket to move your dog if necessary.

Examine your dog for any clinical signs that may help your vet determine a cause for your dog's collapse.

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

During regular hours call your vet right away, 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 many reasons why a dog may collapse although most are either cardiovascular or neurological in nature:

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

  • Low blood sugar
  • Drug side effects
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Heatstroke

Treatment for Collapsing in Dogs

Before treatment can begin, your veterinarian must diagnose the cause of your dog's collapse. Once a diagnosis has been made, your dog's treatment plan will focus on addressing the underlying cause. Many times, medications to control heart rate are prescribed.

Is there a way to prevent a dog from collapsing?

One way to prevent a dog from collapsing is to ensure they are not overexerted during physical activity, especially in hot weather. It's important to provide plenty of water and shade for them to cool down and rest when needed. Additionally, regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help identify any underlying health issues that may contribute to collapsing episodes.

Creating a safer environment for a dog can also involve removing any potential hazards in their living space, such as toxic plants or small objects they could choke on. Providing a comfortable and stress-free environment can help reduce the likelihood of collapsing due to anxiety or fear. Overall, being attentive to their needs and surroundings can greatly decrease the risk of a dog collapsing.

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 Sawtooth Animal Center is here to help. Contact our Bellevue vets right away.

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Sawtooth Animal Center Bellevue is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Bellevue companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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