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Severely Abnormal Heart Rhythm in Dogs




This is an emergency that requires prompt and aggressive treatment. In fact, without treatment, most dogs die within a matter of minutes. Often, electrical cardioversion is used, wherein an electrical defibrillator is used to deliver small electrical shocks to return the heart to normal rhythm. Initially, low intensity shocks are given; if the heart does not respond, the emergency veterinarian may increase the voltage.


If there is no access to an electrical defribillator, he or she may administer a precordial thump, whereby a sharp blow is applied to the chest wall over the heart with an open fist. Although rarely successful, it may be the only alternative.


Living and Management


Once the dog's heart has returned to a normal rhythm, it will require hospitalization for a few days to fully recover. Regular follow-up exams with the veterinarian will also be required, so that he or she may evaluate the dog's progress (typically with the ECG and other diagnostic procedures).


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