Shock is a circulatory condition in which blood flow and oxygen supply of soft tissue and vital organs is substantially reduced. The condition is potentially life-threatening and may lead to multi organ dysfunction.


Urgency level 5


Danger level 5


Depending on the type of shock, different developments of the disease evolve which are summarized in the following and divided into three phases. During the first phase the shock is provoked what reduced the blood volume and the pump performance of the heart. The body reacts against the cause and provides blood supplies and vascular liquid what may potentially stabilize the circulation. The dog appears in that phase apathetic and not responsive and appears weak. Normally, the dog is reluctant to move. In case the dog does not get back to its normal condition, then the counter-regulation of the organism increases. Heartbeat and breathing become considerably faster and the blood circulation of some organs (kidney, liver, intestine) as well as the musculature and the skin is reduced as to be able to supply vitally important organs (heart, brain, lung) sufficiently. Should that condition persist over a longer period of time, the areas insufficiently supplied may permanently be damaged. Additionally, released toxic substances may reach and damage the vital organs. The dog appears in that phase in many cases unable to cope; its behavior changes (e.g. panic attacks, aggressiveness, uneasiness, unstableness). The under-supply may be characterized by a bluish coloring of the mucous membranes and the skin. Individual functions can fail (e.g. ability to see); the dog can vomit or pass out. The chronic symptoms of the shock are differently characterized with each patient. During the last stage, the organism may no longer go against the shock condition; the life of the dog is seriously endangered. The earlier the treatment by veterinarian starts, the better are the chances of the animal for recovery.


Different types of shock are distinguished, which may all have different causes. 1. Hypovolaemic shock: The causes for this type of shock are divided into considerable fluid losses in form of water or electrolytes (dog does not drink or eat, hot weather, increased urinating, diarrhea, vomiting), fluid losses in form of blood (internal or external lesions) or other factors (burns). 2. Cardiovascular shock: The cause for this shock type is coronary failure, as it may occur with acute or chronic heart diseases or after events with extreme excessive strain of the dog. 3. Septic shock: Activators for this type of shock are bacterial infections, as may appear with inflammations of the pancreas or pneumonia. 4. Anaphylactic shock: This shock is considered the most serious form of allergic reaction. 5. Neurogenic shock: The failure of some nerves may above all be caused due to damages of the central nervous system (e.g. craniocerebral injuries after an accident or due to meningitis), by some tumors but also by very strong pains."


The diagnosis is relatively simple in case of a definite, traumatic incident. Generally, the veterinarian will make sure that the dog may breathe. That possibly implies artificial respiration. Then the circulation is stabilized by replacing lost liquid (infusions, etc.). In a final step, the cause of the shock needs to be eliminated (stop bleeding, etc.).

Emergency measures

In case of a shock, the animal should be kept warm by putting it best into a blanket. Then, it should be brought to a veterinary hospital or a veterinarian. Particularly important is the early treatment of the animal. In case you notice changes of behavior with your dog, you should immediately consult a veterinarian. Immediately after the traumatic event (in case one happened) each and any immediate action should be directed to maintain the circulation of the dog as long as possible, until a medicinal therapy as well as infusions or transfusions (in case of loss of blood) are possible. In the concrete case, an affected animal should therefore be calmed down first. Then, if it is conscious, it can be offered liquid. Please do never give your animal anything to drink in case it lost its consciousness. Pay attention that, when the animal is unconscious, the respiration works. For that, you might possibly have to remove vomited material from the mouth and clear the tongue so that air inlet is not interrupted. In case of bleedings, these shall be stopped immediately.