Emergency pet injury can cause shock, requiring emergency veterinary care, which can be a far more serious threat to your pet’s health than a physical injury. The term shock can mean different things to different people, and veterinary medical professionals still debate the exact meaning of the word. Shock is life-threatening and requires immediate attention and care, possibly at an emergency animal hospital. If signs of shock are recognized, or a serious injury has taken place, care such as intravenous (IV) fluids, oxygen and other measures can help reverse shock and prevent permanent organ damage.
Think of the cardiovascular system of cats and dogs as a closed circuit consisting of a pump (the heart) and a series of stretchable tubes (blood vessels). The system is filled to capacity with a fluid (blood) that circulates through the tubes delivering fuel (oxygen and other metabolic substances) and picking up trash (carbon dioxide and other metabolic waste). The pump must be able to deliver a proper amount of the fluid and there must be enough fluid to completely fill and stretch the system of tubes.
The most common cause of shock in our pets is trauma caused by fights with other animals, being hit by a car, and gunshots. Other causes include poisoning, insect stings, fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea, infections, burns, and lack of oxygen caused by heart failure or obstruction of airways.
Early Signs of Emergency Pet Injury Shock
• The pet may be either excited or subdued.
• Rapid heart rate.
• Pulse difficult to find.
• Gums may be normal or pale
Late Signs of Shock
• Gums extremely pale or show a bluish discoloration.
• Heart rate is probably elevated and irregular, but may be normal or below normal as heart muscle begins to fail.
• The pulse will be weak and either difficult or impossible to locate.
• The pet will feel cold to the touch and rectal temperature will be below normal.
• Respiration may be slow or rapid, shallow or deep.
• The eyes may take on a glazed appearance and appear not to focus normally.
• Mental condition deteriorates from depression to stupor to coma.
Emergency Pet Injury, What You Should Do For Shock Caused By It
• Provide adequate breathing if needed.
• Stop any bleeding.
• Apply a muzzle, if pain or apprehension may cause the pet to bite, but make sure that the muzzle does not interfere with breathing.
• Protect obvious fractures from further injury.
• Prevent loss of body heat by covering the patient with one or more blankets.
• Immediately transport the patient to a Kansas City veterinary emergency facility for treatment of shock and other injuries and illnesses.
Things You Should Not Do
Well-meaning pet owners often use first aid procedures that may seem helpful, but, in fact, may prove dangerous to the animal.
• Do not pour water (or anything else) into the animal’s mouth. Animals in shock are weak and may inhale anything given by mouth into the lungs, causing a serious complication.
• Do not administer any medications (including aspirin, ibuprofen or other pain relievers) unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian.
• Injured animals should not be encouraged to walk. They definitely should not be allowed to move into or out of the transport vehicle on their own. Internal bleeding may be increased with movement.
• Do not assume the pet is not in shock after an accident. Early, mild stages of shock are difficult to recognize, and the pet may deteriorate rapidly if not given proper veterinary care.
• Do not hesitate to seek veterinary emergency services. Be aware that many injuries and illnesses that cause shock might cause irreparable damage to your pet in minutes.
Thanks very much for sharing your concern for pets in our area!