Syncope or fainting in dogs – Symptoms, origin and treatment

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passed out dog

Has your dog ever lost consciousness for no apparent reason? Syncope is the medical term for fainting, due to lack of oxygen or nutrients in the brain. They tend to be short episodes and with a sudden recovery.

However, they may indicate the existence of a chronic, progressive, and even fatal underlying disease. If you want to know more about its causes, symptoms and possible treatments, you are in the right place.

Index of contents

  • 1 Obvious symptoms of Syncope
  • 2 Why do these fainting spells occur?
  • 3 What should I do if my dog ​​suffers from syncope?
  • 4 What are the proper treatments?

Obvious symptoms of Syncope

You should know that fainting is not a disease in itself. Rather, it is a reversible conjunctural condition or syndrome, which can hint at the existence of a secondary pathology that requires therapy.

It is generally involved with cardiomyopathy or a condition of the nervous system, so an early diagnosis is the best measure to preserve the health of our dog.

As a general rule, it usually occurs with the following symptoms:

  • Lack of knowledge or response to our claims.
  • Rigid extremities.
  • Lost look.
  • Urination (urine)
  • Muscle spasms that can be mistaken for a epilepsy episode.
  • Paleness of mucous membranes, whitish gums.

It is usually more frequent in older dogs and, in particular, in the breeds of Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, Boxer, German shepherd, Pug and Dachshund.

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dog that has suffered a syncope

Why do these fainting spells occur?

There are many factors that can cause our dog to end up fainting, lose consciousness and even appear to have an epileptic fit.

The main triggers at general levels are:

  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia) or fast heart rate (tachycardia).
  • A cardiac tumor (not necessarily malignant).
  • Hypothermic ventilation.
  • Stress (one of the main causes)
  • Exposure to certain medications that lead to blood clots or thickening.
  • Hypoglycemia.
  • Calcium or sodium deficiency in the blood.

The so-called situational syncope deserves special attention. We refer to loss of consciousness caused by cough, difficulty swallowing, urinating, or defecating, as well as overstimulation of the carioid sinus, for example, by pulling the strap abruptly. In all of them the prognosis is usually positive and immediate recovery.

What should I do if my dog ​​suffers from syncope?

In a situation of this type, you should go to your vet as soon as possible. As it is an indicative medical condition, the specialist must determine the exact cause to prevent its progression and establish the corresponding treatment.

Remember to inform them about any past illness or about the medicine you are taking, if so.

It will be necessary to carry out a detailed medical examination with complete blood count, urinalysis and biochemical profile.. It may happen that the parameters are normal. However, if the cause is hypoglycemia it will be easily detectable, as well as low levels of calcium or sodium in the blood.

If cardiomyopathy is suspected to be the true cause of fainting, additional tests such as an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram will be performed. The same can be said of computed tomography or analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid, if it is estimated that the genesis lies in brain dysfunction.

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dog going through a vet checkup

What are the proper treatments?

It should be reiterated that the cause will determine the ideal treatment to reverse the situation and prevent an aggravation that could compromise the survival of our pet.

In the case of myocardiopathic causes there are medications to regulate heart rate. Likewise, you must follow up, for at least 24 hours, the constants of the can. In the most extreme cases, it will be necessary to place a pacemaker.

If, on the contrary, the origin resides in the low glucose, sodium or calcium index, it will be necessary to introduce certain modifications in your diet, being it advisable to request information on the natural food BARF to our vet. Due to its multiple health benefits.

For stress or extreme emotional responses, medication can also be effective, without overlooking provide you with a more relaxed atmosphere and go for regular check-ups at least until the situation returns to normal.

In short, syncopes in dogs are not, in most cases, a cause for concern for their owners, as long as the cause is identified in time and receives its corresponding therapy.

To prevent them, keep your vet visit history up to date, provide a balanced diet and regular exercise. We are sure that with your love and these recommendations you will be able to live endless adventures together.