Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

What to Do if Your Dog Collapses or Passes Out

Pet unconsciousness can be a scary situation leading you to take swift actions that may harm your dog. In this article, our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets explain the emergency care and first aid steps to help your dog when they are unconscious.

What causes a dog to collapse?

If you see a dog passed out or an unconscious dog contact an emergency vet. Dog collapses can result from a range of incidents and conditions, from electric shocks to endocrine disorders like Addison's disease or diabetes. Severe reactions to insect bites, stings, and medications can also lead to your dog collapsing. Additionally, illnesses such as poisoning, respiratory issues, heart disease, blood disorders, and drug overdoses like insulin can cause collapse. However, the warning signs can be quite subtle. 

There is a difference between a dog suffering seizures or fits and collapsing. Seizures are typically caused by conditions such as epilepsy while acute collapse is usually the result of a disorder of one of the following:

  • Circulation (heart, blood vessels, blood)
  • Respiratory system (mouth, nose, throat, lungs)
  • Nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves)
  • Musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles)

If your elderly dog is collapsing repeatedly, the likelihood is it’s down to an age-related condition such as diabetes or heart disease. You should seek advice from your daytime vet about the potential causes and solutions. 

What to Do if a Dog is Unconscious

Read these steps so you can feel prepared if you see an unconscious dog.

Step 1. Evaluate Your Dog Before You Take Any Action

Unconsciousness in a pet is an emergency and can be alarming, but it's important not to rush as you could inadvertently harm your dog. Stay calm and assess your dog before applying the ABC of first aid. If you're unable to administer first aid, bring your pet to our team as quickly as possible.

Step 2. Check for Airway Blockage

See if your dog's chest is rising and listen carefully to their breathing. Once you're certain your dog is unconscious, check for any airway obstruction. To do this, gently extend your dog's head and neck and pull their tongue forward to inspect their mouth. Avoid putting your fingers inside your dog's mouth.

Gently pull on the tip of the tongue while holding the dog's jaw to get a better view. If your dog resists, this is an indication that they are no longer unconscious and could potentially bite you. If you're certain your dog is still unconscious, carefully tilt their head down to clear the obstruction.

For seizures, you do not need to carry out this procedure. You only need to keep the environment around your pet safe, and it will eventually pass. If your dog starts having multiple seizures, bring him or her into our office right away. Feel free to consult our team at Brentwood Animal Hospital if you are struggling with the process.

Step 3. CPR May Be Needed

If your dog is not breathing and his or her airway is clear, you will need to perform CPR. You can breathe into your dog’s nostrils cautiously as a last option.

Step 4. Check for Cardiovascular Issues

Listen to your dog’s heartbeat. If you do not hear anything, try to execute CPR chest compressions. Since this is a pet emergency, take your dog to the vet even after these procedures are done. We will check to make sure your dog is functioning well and can help you avoid issues like these in the future.

Treatment For Acute Collapse in Dogs

If you ever see a dog collapsed on the ground contact an emergency vet. Dogs taken to the vet after collapsing will undergo a thorough examination and a series of diagnostics tests to try to determine the underlying causes. Your vet may also take X-rays, do an ultrasound, and carry out a CT or MRI scan. Your dog may also be given intravenous fluids and prescribed medication.

In some instances, a collapse may be harmless and require no treatment, while dogs that collapse from an electric shock or insect bite may initially seem to recover but then experience a delayed reaction. It's important to recognize that pinpointing the cause of your dog's sporadic or infrequent collapse episodes can be difficult. This might necessitate more thorough investigations by a specialist or referral clinician.

Ask Your Veterinarian

Some symptoms linked to collapsing can have physical causes that need urgent veterinary attention. If your dog doesn't seem normal, you should first schedule a visit with your vet. This proactive approach can help ensure that your dog receives the appropriate care and treatment they need to feel better and improve their overall quality of life.

Dogs can often feel better with more love and attention. If they don't improve, a vet can give medications to help them.

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.

If your dog has been collapsing or going unconscious, give us a call. Our experienced Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets can diagnose the cause of your dog's symptoms and prescribe treatments to help them feel better.

New Patients Welcome

Holland Veterinary Hospitals in Hattiesburg and Wiggins are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all animals. Get in touch today to book an appointment with our experienced vets.

Contact Us