Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

What to Do if Your Dog Collapses or Passes Out

If your dog has collapsed, it is a clear sign of an underlying issue. What causes dogs to collapse? What should you do if your dog passes out? Read on to find out.

Dog Collapse & Fainting

Collapse is a sudden loss of strength that causes your dog to fall to the ground, with or without loss of consciousness. Dogs who collapse but remain conscious may express confusion or anxiety.

Fainting, passing out or syncope is a collapse with loss of consciousness, which may be accompanied by defecation or urination. Fainting can follow other symptoms such as staggering, disorientation, diarrhea, or general weakness and is considered to be a veterinary emergency.

Depending on the cause of the dog's collapse they may recover very quickly, jumping up and appearing perfectly normal. In other cases, they may stay in a lying position until assisted.

What To Do If Your Dog Collapses

If your dog has passed out but recovers quickly contact your vet to let them know what has happened. Your veterinarian can let you know whether an examination is called for.

What to Do if a Dog is Unconscious

Remain calm and evaluate the situation.

Make sure that your pup is in a safe space, away from danger. Use a calm voice to reassure your pet and use a blanket to move your dog if necessary.

Examine your dog for any clinical signs that may help your vet determine a cause for your dog's collapse.

  • Was your dog behaving normally before the collapse?
  • Is your dog struggling to breathe?
  • Are they bleeding?
  • Is your dog's abdomen swollen? 

During regular hours call your vet right away, explain the situation and arrange an emergency appointment. If your usual veterinary clinic is closed, contact your nearest animal emergency hospital or head straight over.

Note: An unconscious dog may wake up feeling confused or anxious. This can lead to uncharacteristic behavior including aggression. Use extra caution when transporting your pup to the vet for care.

Possible Causes of Collapse in Dogs

There are many reasons why a dog may collapse although most are either cardiovascular or neurological in nature:

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • Arrhythmias
  • Heart Failure
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Bradycardia (abnormally slow heartbeat)
  • Tachycardia (abnormally fast heartbeat)
  • Low cardiac output

Neurological Conditions

  • Vascular disease
  • Narcolepsy
  • Vestibular disease
  • Brain tumor

Other Conditions

  • Heartworm disease
  • Cancer
  • Bloat
  • Acute blood loss or hemorrhage
  • Low blood sugar
  • Drug side effects
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Heatstroke

Treatment for Collapsing in Dogs

Before treatment can begin it will be necessary for your veterinarian to determine the cause of your dog's collapse. Once a diagnosis has been received, your dog's treatment will be aimed at addressing the underlying cause. In many cases, medications to regulate heart rate are prescribed.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Collapsing or Passing Out

To prevent your dog from collapsing or passing out, it is important to ensure they are not overheated or dehydrated. Make sure they have access to fresh water at all times and avoid exercising them in extreme heat. Additionally, be mindful of their breed and age, as certain dogs are more prone to heat exhaustion.

Another important factor in preventing your dog from collapsing or passing out is monitoring their activity level. Avoid overexerting them during exercise and be aware of any signs of fatigue or distress. If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms such as excessive panting, drooling, or weakness, it is important to stop the activity immediately and seek veterinary attention if necessary.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your dog collapsed or passed out? Our team at Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital is here to help. Contact our Plains emergency vets right away.

From Happy Pet Owners

  • This facility and their staff are absolutely top notch! Not only are they EXTREMELY knowledgeable, but they are a class act! I would HIGHLY recommend them for ANY of your pets!
    Shawn P.

Contact (570) 208-8877