First aid for Fido: Dangerous states
How to save your pet from deadly situations
Brought on by serious trauma, blood loss or poisoning, shock can kill your dog. Symptoms include pale or grey gums, a weak pulse and a rapid heartbeat. If you suspect your dog is in shock, get it out of the field and to the nearest vet immediately. Remember: not only does the shock need to be treated, but so, too, does the injury that brought it on. Time is of the essence, especially in severe cases where the dog may need intravenous fluids to survive.
If you can’t get to a vet right away and the dog isn’t breathing, administer CPR or artificial respiration. Cover your dog with a jacket or blanket to conserve body heat, and keep its head as low as, or lower than, the rest of its body by propping up the hindquarters.
You may need to keep its airways open by clearing secretions from the mouth with your fingers, and by pulling the tip of the tongue beyond the front teeth. If the dog is conscious, give it tepid water mixed with sugar every 30 minutes (never put fluids in the dog’s mouth if it’s unconscious, convulsing or vomiting).
As with humans, hypothermia occurs when a dog’s body temperature drops dangerously low. Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, mental dullness, seizures or even coma. Waterfowl dogs are more likely to encounter problems with hypothermia than their upland counterparts, because they spend more time in cold water.
A hypothermic dog needs to be warmed up immediately. If you’re near home, the best thing to do is immerse it in a warm bath. Alternatively, get the dog into your vehicle and turn up the heat (if the dog’s wet, dry it to avoid further heat loss through evaporation).
This is essentially the opposite of hypothermia. Any time a dog’s body temperature rises well above normal, it’s cause for concern, as brain damage or even death can occur. Dogs in a hyperthermic state will look like they’re in shock. They may collapse, have difficulty standing, pass out, vomit or appear spaced out.
If a dog has any of those symptoms, immediately cool it down by getting it into the closest body of water (or by pouring cool water on it if there are no lakes or streams around). Also try to get the dog to drink water in small, but frequent, amounts. Again, even after the dog recovers take it to a vet as soon as possible. You never know.
This article was originally published on September 1, 2003