Emergency Treatment for Cardiac Arrest in Dogs
Cardiac Arrest in Dogs
Cardiac arrest is an emergency, so if your pet collapses, contact your vet immediately. They will ask you about your pet’s history and carry out a few tests to assess the condition.
If your dog goes into cardiac arrest, the emergency veterinary team will follow the steps of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This will include checking the airway, ventilation and circulation to re-establish oxygenation to the brain.
Cardiac arrest in dogs can be caused by many things. If the heart is not pumping blood adequately it can lead to poor oxygen supply to the brain, which in turn causes the dog to collapse and lose consciousness. Blood clots can also block blood flow to the heart and if large enough they can cause a heart attack.
In most cases a heart attack is fatal without rapid veterinary treatment. A dog in cardiac arrest will usually die within four to six minutes if they are not resuscitated.
Cardiopulmonary arrest is defined as the complete cessation of effective circulation and ventilation. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the process by which the veterinary team will attempt to revive your dog. This includes ensuring the airway is clear, providing oxygen through intubation and re-establishing circulation of blood by compression. The exact steps a veterinarian will take to resuscitate your pet will depend on the type of heart disease your dog has and their medical history.
Cardiac arrest is the sudden cessation of heartbeat and breathing. It is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate attention.
A pet may suffer cardiac arrest as a result of a cardiac disease that has progressed to congestive heart failure (CHF). In other cases, it occurs as a complication of other illnesses such as cancer or certain types of tumors.
The first step in reviving a dog that is suffering from cardiac arrest is to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). A tube is passed into the trachea, and oxygen is supplied to facilitate breathing.
A veterinary doctor will then examine the pet to determine the underlying cause of the heart attack. Chest X-rays, blood work and an echocardiogram are usually performed. If a blood clot is the underlying cause of the heart attack, medications will be given to break up and prevent future clots from forming in the heart. The dog will also be given long-term medication to help keep the heart healthy.
When a dog experiences cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the blood stops flowing. The brain and other organs are deprived of oxygen within four to six minutes, leading to death.
A veterinary team trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation will clear the pet’s airway, provide oxygen via the nose or mouth and begin chest compressions to stimulate the heart and reestablish blood flow. The veterinary team will also determine the cause of the cardiac arrest and administer any medications that are needed to assist in normalizing cardiac function.
A veterinary team can only save a small percentage of dogs that go into cardiac arrest. Even if a dog can be resuscitated, the prognosis for survival is poor because the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest must be addressed. For this reason, it is important to know CPR and keep the phone number of a nearby emergency veterinary hospital handy in case your dog experiences a medical emergency such as cardiac arrest.
A dog in cardiac arrest will not regain consciousness on their own, so they must be resuscitated. This involves ensuring the airway is clear, breathing with oxygen through a tube in the trachea and chest compressions (one hand for small dogs, two hands for larger ones) for 30 compressions followed by two breaths.
The emergency veterinarian will need to ask you about the symptoms your dog has been showing and any circumstances that might have triggered their heart attack. They will also perform a physical examination, checking your dog’s pulse and respiration rates and constantly monitoring their blood oxygen levels.
Routine diagnostic exams might include a chest X-ray to assess fluid buildup in and around the lungs, an electrocardiogram to evaluate your pet’s heart rhythm and echocardiograms that allow direct evaluation of heart size and function. These tests can help determine if there are any underlying conditions that are contributing to your pet’s cardiac failure or causing their sudden cardiac arrest.