First aid

Emergency first aid for dogs – Part 3 – The shock/stimulant controversy

When a dog goes into shock, what stimulants are safe to give the animal? What exactly should you do in this situation? Life or death is waiting on your decision…

Before going into the differences of professional opinion on these very important questions, note the following basic guidelines:

  • If the dog is conscious then administer sweetened, warm coffee or whiskey.
  • If the dog is unconscious then do not give it anything at all. Instead, rush the animal immediately to the closest veterinarian’s office.

The shock\stimulant controversy

It is interesting to note that many of the popular canine medical books on the market today are in complete opposition regarding a large number of the procedures for emergency first aid. Although these publications are written by knowledgeable, practicing veterinarians, their different views cause more questions than answers.

One major point of controversy is whether emergency first aid procedures should be instituted at all. One faction claims that time wasted looking for blankets or other material to keep an injured dog warm could spell the difference between life or death.

The other faction claims that failure to keep the dog warm could also spell the difference between life or death. The biggest controversy, however, seems to concern the type of stimulant to be used in an emergency situation: coffee, tea, or liquor.

The anti-liquor advocates state that liquor is a depressant, not a stimulant. The pro-liquor advocates counter by saying that liquor is a depressant only when consumed in large quantities, and that in an emergency situation, a shot of booze serves as an effective stimulant.

How can practicing veterinarians, men and women who are highly trained and closely skilled as one another in the same medical field, have such opposing views on something as simple as emergency first aid procedures? Hasn’t veterinary medicine progressed to the point of being an exact science? The answer is an unqualified no!

Make a choice. Any choice.

It will be most interesting to know your personal opinions on the matter. This issue should warrant debate so that you can choose how to be prepared to help your dog (or any dog) that may be in an emergency situation and has fallen into a state of shock. Any help is better than just leaving the dog to die or mistakenly rushing it to the hospital without shock treatment.

In summary, then, remember the initial steps in the treatment for shock: Keep the dog calm and warm; administer a stimulant if (and only if) the dog is conscious; and rush the injured animal to the nearest veterinarian for the necessary supportive treatment.