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Shock In Dogs – Causes & Types

Shock In Dogs

What Is Shock In Dogs?

The term “shock” is often used in the wrong way. It’s more than just the overwhelming reaction after a traumatic incident.

Shock is a sequela of diseases and trauma frequently encountered in medical practice, such as inflammatory conditions (e.g., meningitis, encephalitis), sepsis, or heart failure. The common shortage that dogs suffering from ‘shock’ are decreased release or consumption of oxygen. Hypovolemic shock can obstruct the oxygen and other essential nutrients from entering the dog’s cells as the amount of blood to fill the vascular system is not enough.

Shock is defined as diminished cellular oxygen utilization or insufficient cellular energy production related to decreasing flow of blood that causes organ failure and cell death. Insufficient production of energy is demonstrated by reduced oxygen delivery. In dogs with heart problems, it is connected with decreased cardiac output; in traumatized dogs, this may be due to hemorrhage; in dogs with inflammatory conditions, it can be secondary to improper and mal-distribution of vascular resistance. Reduced utilization of cellular oxygen is also seen in septic shock as well as with the ingestion of toxins.

There are many reasons for the causes of ‘shock’ in dogs. Regardless of what causes the shock, it is a life-threatening condition and it is decided that the dog receives immediate vet intervention.

Symptoms Of Shock In Dogs

Early stages:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dogs acting anxious or uneasy
  • Shallow breathing
  • Clear reddish gums

Middle stages:

  • Increased heartbeat
  • Blue or pale gums, eyelids, and lips
  • Difficult to locate the pulse
  • Rapid, shallow respiration
  • Lower rectal temperature

Later stages:

  • White or mottled gums
  • Elevated/irregular/ erratic heart rate
  • Dilated pupils/fixed stare
  • Slow and shallow or rapid and deep respiration
  • Stupor
  • Coma

Treatment Options For Shock In Dogs

The treatment is based on the underlying cause of ‘shock’ in dogs.

  • When the dog has very high fever, Immediate hospitalization and close monitoring are required, if not treated immediately, this will cause death.
  • Congestive heart failure- an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (ramipril, benazepril, imidapril, enalapril or lisinopril), diuretics like furosemide, spironolactone, etc. Other medications that might be used are valsartan/ torsemide/ sacubitril or sildenafil.
  • Nutritional therapy and Intravenous fluid and will be given to help your dog not become severely dehydrated.
  • Immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Anti-diarrhea medications.
  • A broad-spectrum antibiotic for any secondary bacterial infections.

Home Remedies For Shock In Dogs

  • The home remedies should focus on reducing the incidence and severity of the shock.
  • Neurological medications may have a few side effects; though, the benefits often really outweigh the risk.
  • Regular follow-up with your vet can make the life of the dog comfortable.
  • It is good to keep a diary to note the important happenings w.r.t shock and other nervous disorders.

How To Prevent Shock In Dogs?

  • There’s not much a pet owner can do to prevent them as there are several factors involved in some breeds but a high-quality diet with health supplements may help somehow or other.
  • Protect your dog from other infections, metabolic disorders, and ingestion of toxins.
  • Check your dog on a regular basis and check for any other underlying diseases.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Shock

There is no breed disposition

Causes And Types For Shock In Dogs

1. Causes:

  • Blood loss due to accidents, injury
  • Excessive diarrhea and vomiting
  • Ingestion of blood thinning medication (i.e. warfarin, heparin)
  • Burns and scalds in dogs
  • Exposure to extreme cold for a prolonged period
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)
  • Septicemia and bacteremia
  • Internal Hemorrhage such as bleeding ulcers

2. Types:

  1. Circulatory Shock: This happens due to a decrease in effective circulating volume. This is sub-divided into.
    • Cardiogenic Shock: Despite normal or increased blood volume and appropriate systemic resistance, effective circulating volume decreases due to heart failures, such as those with cardiac tamponade, cardiac arrhythmias, or congestive heart failure.
    • Hypovolemic Shock: Decrease in blood volume through third space fluid distribution, dehydration, or internal/ external hemorrhage.
    • Distributive Shock: Irregularity in the maintenance of vasoconstriction of blood vessels leads to systemic vasodilation, causing hypotension in spite of proper cardiac function and efficient circulating volume. This happens in hepatitis, pyelonephritis, pancreatitis, etc.
  2. Metabolic Shock: This happens when the transport of oxygen to the cell is normal, but the cell could not consume oxygen for energy production. Eg., cyanide poisoning, mitochondrial dysfunction, or hypoglycemia.
  3. Hypoxic shock: Hypoxic shock is due to messed-up oxygen delivery to cells. It may be secondary to respiratory disease or decreased hemoglobin concentration (decrease in the oxygen content of blood, e.g., anemia), or decreased hemoglobin saturation. In some cases, blood oxygen content may be normal, but the oxygen off-loading mechanism is insufficient.

3. Mortality:

‘Shock’ in dogs doesn’t have a proper treatment modality. Varied causes, non-progressive (occasionally progressive), neurological disorder. Treatment is usually supportive and depends on the dog's symptoms.

4. Diagnosis:

  • A complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urinalysis
  • Serum biochemistry profile
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound, CT scan

5. Prognosis:

There is no cure for ‘shock’ but it can be managed well with proper diet and treatment. Most dogs undergoing treatment will show improvement within a day after starting the treatment. If not treated immediately, the condition is usually fatal and the lifespan of dogs will be affected.

When To See A Vet For Shock In Dogs?

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Dogs acting anxious or uneasy
  • Shallow breathing

Food Suggestions For Shock In Dogs

Whole Foods:

  • Vitamin-rich veggies: Spinach, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts
  • Antioxidant-packed fruits: Cranberries, Blueberries, cherries, peaches, red currants
  • Leafy greens: Cabbage, kale, Spinach, Beet Greens, Collard Greens
  • Fiber-filled veggies: Boiled green peas, Sweet potato, boiled turnip greens
  • Lean protein: Lean Ground Beef, Chicken, turkey, tenderloin
  • Fish: Wild Salmon, Anchovies, sardines, Mussels, tuna


  • Flaxseed oil: From Cold Pressed Flax Seeds (spray over dog’s food)
  • Omega-3 oils: Fish oil supplements, green-lipped mussel oil
  • Coconut oil (sauté dog’s veggies or mix in with dog’s food)

Herbs and Spices:

  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric (powdered or fresh root)
  • Parsley
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Coriander


Most of the ‘shocked’ dogs cannot live comfortable lives if they are not diagnosed early and appropriately treated. Treatment is usually expensive, so many owners opt to euthanize the dog. Pets can live a longer, quality life with the right supportive care and medications.

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