How to Tell if a Dog is in Shock

Feb 21, 2023

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Do you know how to tell if your dog is dealing with shock? Shock can occur for many different reasons. Shock commonly occurs following a traumatic injury and blood loss; however, it is important to understand that shock can also be caused by things such as heart failure, anaphylaxis, and several other disease processes. Therefore, recognizing the signs of shock, although tricky, is important as a pet owner. 

In the article below, we’ll walk you through some of the most common signs of shock in dogs. With the help of this information, you can learn how to tell if your dog is in shock and when to seek veterinary attention. 

Signs of a Dog in Shock

Listed below are some of the main signs you can look for at home: 

Discolored Mucous Membranes

Discolored mucous membranes may tell you that your dog’s body is in shock. Mucous membranes are almost always pink or red on a dog, but they may become very pale, white, blue, or gray when your dog is in shock. It is important to know what your dog’s mucous membranes look like normally so you can tell if something is wrong with them.

The best and easiest place to check this symptom is by looking at your dog’s gums. You can see if your dog is dealing with shock by checking the color of his gums against their normal color. Some dogs have black or pigmented gums, which can be normal for your pet, if this is the case you can evaluate your dog’s mucous membranes by looking at the inner portion of the eyelids or even your dog’s vulva or prepuce. 

Weakness and Disorientation

Weakness is yet another common sign of shock in dogs. If your dog is too weak to stand up or hold his head up unassisted, this means they need to see an emergency vet immediately. When that weakness is accompanied by disorientation or an inability to remain alert for very long, there is significant concern that your pet may be in shock.

Weakness and disorientation may occur in dogs who are very sick or who are suffering from certain conditions such as cancer, heart disease or have just suffered a traumatic injury. In any case, if you notice these clinical signs, your pet should seek veterinary attention immediately. 

Rapid Breathing

Rapid, shallow breathing can be an indicator of shock in dogs. This symptom is often seen along with others on this list, and it is sometimes one of the first symptoms of shock pet owners may notice.

Rapid, shallow breathing may be caused by other issues as well, including respiratory or cardiac illness, pain and more. If your dog’s rapid breathing continues for more than a couple of minutes, or is coupled with any of the other signs mentioned on this list, go to the emergency vet, as the underlying problem could be serious and may require treatment.

Faint Heartbeat

A faint heartbeat may signify shock, especially immediately following an injury. This symptom is often seen along with rapid breathing, but not always at the same time. If your dog has been injured or is very sick and has a faint heartbeat, go to the emergency vet right away for treatment.

Without other symptoms on this list, there is a chance that a faint heartbeat could be related to illness instead of shock. However, regardless of the underlying cause, this is a serious symptom that can be quite dangerous if left untreated, so your dog needs medical attention as soon as possible.

Cold to the Touch

If your pet is cold to the touch, this likely means his body temperature has dropped. A lowered body temperature, especially following an injury, is a common symptom of shock. You do not have to take your pet’s temperature to notice this, most of the time; however, checking his temperature can help you confirm this symptom.

Your dog’s temperature should fall somewhere around 100-102.5 F. If your pet’s body temperature is low, this is a sign that you need to take him to the emergency vet right away. This is a serious symptom that could lead to significant problems.


Pets in shock do not always vomit, however, if your pet is exhibiting any of the other signs on this list, accompanied by vomiting, they should be seen immediately. 

Vomiting is also a sign of a wide range of other health problems in pets. Your dog could be vomiting due to anything from a stomach virus to a serious internal injury. If vomiting is the only symptom, talk to your vet to figure out if your pet needs to be seen right away..

Contact VEG if Your Dog is in Shock

Did you learn something useful about recognizing the signs of shock in dogs? We hope, with the help of this guide, you will be able to recognize signs of shock in your pet and when to seek medical attention. 

If you know or suspect your pet is in shock, or if you know your pet has just experienced a traumatic injury, don’t wait to take him to the emergency vet. The sooner your pet is seen by a vet, the easier it will be for the vet to resolve the problem and help your dog feel better fast.

VEG has locations all over the country, with most of them being open 24 hours a day and all of them being open 24 hours on weekends and holidays. All of our hospitals are staffed with compassionate, caring professionals who always put the wellbeing and comfort of your pet first. So don’t wait, make sure your pet gets the care he/she needs by calling and speaking to one of our emergency vets now.