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Cardiac Arrest in Dogs




This is a life-threatening emergency that will require immediate hospitalization and intensive nursing support and treatment. The primary goal is to restart the dog's heart rhythm and respiration rate, which may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Once the trachea is cleared and CPR is performed, a tube may be passed into the trachea to facilitate breathing. Oxygen may also be supplied to normalize the blood oxygen levels.


Dogs with heart failure may require external cardiac massage to stimulate heart to beat normally. Those unresponsive to cardiac massage may receive rapid chest compressions. Typically medications are administered to assist in normalizing cardiac functions. Otherwise, the chest is incised to provide the open chest resuscitation to the animal or medications are administered directly into the heart -- both of which are considered a last resort.


Living and Management


The overall prognosis will depend on the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest and the course of treatment. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of dogs recover, even after successful emergency treatment.


If your dog's condition does stabilize, it will need to stay in the hospital for a few days. There, the veterinarian may monitor cardiac functions and blood pressure and and treat any further complications.



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