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What is Fainting?

Fainting or syncope is defined as loss of consciousness accompanied by loss of postural tone for a short time because of a temporarily insufficient supply of oxygen or decreased delivery of essential nutrients (e.g. glucose) to the brain. During a fainting episode of a dog will collapse and the limbs may become stiff or the dog may paddle its legs. The most susceptible breeds are Boxer, Doberman and Great Dane. This syndrome is often associated to cardiac disease therefore; identifying the underlying cause is crucial. Fainting, also called syncope, is a loss of consciousness that is typically due to a lack of normal blood flow to the brain. Fainting in dogs is typically attributed to one of two main problems: neurologic (e.g., brain or spinal cord) or cardiac (e.g., heart arrhythmias, etc.).

Fainting Average Cost

From 12 quotes ranging from $2,500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,800

Symptoms of Fainting in Dogs

  • Flaccid and sudden collapse
  • Usually there is no urination or defecation during the episode
  • Dog is unresponsive during the episode
  • Abrupt and complete recovery
  • Pale mucus membranes
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Causes of Fainting in Dogs

Most syncopal events in dogs are due to a temporal reduction in brain blood flow. A decrease in cardiac output or less vascular resistance reduces arterial pressure and may result in reduction of cerebral blood flow. Cardiac diseases are related to two-thirds of the syncope episodes seen in dogs and cats.

Neurologic
  • Abnormal brain activity
Cardiac
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Atrioventricular block
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Heart tumors
Others
  • Low concentration of glucose, calcium, sodium in blood
  • Use of diuretics and vasodilator drugs
Characteristics
  • Flaccid and sudden collapse
  • Usually there is no urination or defecation during the episode
  • Dog is unresponsive during the episode
  • Abrupt and complete recovery
  • Pale mucus membranes
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Diagnosis of Fainting in Dogs

It is important to provide the veterinarian with as much information about the fainting episode as possible, this will help him/her to distinguish seizures from syncope and to identify the underlying cause. Since most fainting episodes occur in the presence of the dog owner and not of the veterinarian it is important to pay attention to how the dog collapses. Taking a short video, if possible, and showing it to the veterinarian, can be a great way of helping your pet.

Fainting is not a disease but a syndrome; therefore, it is very important to identify what is causing the episodes in order to adequately treat the patient. Diagnosis starts with a through physical examination and gathering of the patient’s clinical history. Owners should inform the veterinarian about any drugs that the patient is taking.

The veterinarian will start with a thorough physical examination to detect any abnormalities, especially in heart function. Meticulous auscultation will allow detection of cardiac disease signs such as a murmur, arrhythmia, pulse deficit or signs of reduced cardiac output such as pale mucous membranes. If there is evidence of cardiovascular disease the following diagnostic test may be needed:

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess resting heart rate and rhythm
  • Echocardiography to assess cardiac dimensions and function
  • Full haematology and serum biochemistry to assess whether there is evidence of reduced organ perfusion and/or other systemic disease
  • Thoracic radiographs to assess whether there are signs of congestive heart failure
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Treatment of Fainting in Dogs

Syncope episodes are temporary and reversible; once the cause of syncope has been identified the veterinarian will recommend an appropriate treatment. For example, if an abnormally low heart rate is detected, the dog may need a permanent pacemaker to stimulate heart function. If the episodes were caused by a given medication, treatment withdraw will probably suffice.

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Recovery of Fainting in Dogs

After a fainting episode it is important to detect the cause and to prevent recurrent episodes. It is important to be vigilant of any future episodes and, in such cases, contact your veterinarian immediately. If cardiac insufficiency was the cause, strenuous exercise should be avoided and the veterinarian’s indications should be followed rigorously. In these cases, patients tend to have poor prognosis. Dogs with fainting history will probably need various medical check ups during the year.

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Fainting Average Cost

From 12 quotes ranging from $2,500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,800

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Fainting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Husky

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

None

So we were walking our dog she pooped and kept walking like normal out of no where she yelped and passed out she can stand but is very weak is not eating or drinking water she also threw up all her food. As of now she is panting very fast and responsive but is in her cage laying down what can cause her to just pass out. She has not done this before her stomach is also very sunk in.

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, there are many reasons for fainting. Heart issues can cause a dog to faint but they usually start responding normally after a few minutes. There can be many other issues that could have caused this. If your dog is lethargic and not feeling well, it would be best for your vet to see your dog. They can figure out exactly what is going on with him to cause him to be this way.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Fifteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Passed Out

this morning my dog starting hacking, threw up and then turned around, stiffened up, fell forward and peed herself. She has since been moving around fine, ate and seems to be normal. What could have caused this and do I need to take her into my local vet clinic?

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear about your dog's episode of collapse! Without examining your dog, it's very hard for me to know what might be going on. What you describe could be consistent with a syncopal (fainting) episode due to something like heart disease. It could have also been a seizure-like event, or a sudden drop in blood pressure due to vomiting. I would absolutely recommend having your dog examined by the veterinarian to make sure that her heart and lungs sound okay, and that this was nothing to worry about. Hopefully she starts feeling better soon!

July 30, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness

He is 13 years old, when he goes outside to play and starts running around he gets super weak and falls down, he doesn’t pass out but falls over, gets super weak and starts breathing heavy

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There are very common changes that happen with aging, in people and in dogs. There are medications that may be able to help your dog, but without seeing him, I cannot say what might be going on. He may have muscular problems, nerve problems or joint problems. The best thing to do would be to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him, see what might be going on, and get the right treatment for him so that he feels more comfortable. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 21, 2020

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Chihuahua

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Fourteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Passed Out

What would cause a dog that was running around and barking to pass out for a few seconds then come to with no signs that anything happened.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There are heart conditions that can cause that, it is called syncope, and can occur when there's a lack of circulation to the brain for a short period of time. It would probably be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they can listen to your dog's heart, see if there's an abnormality that needs treatment, and see what else might be going on. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

July 14, 2020

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Nika

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Labrador Retriever

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13 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Fainting

My 13.5 y.o. lab mix Nika has the same symptoms like other clients here: fainting 1-2 times a day now for about 2 weeks, urinating. She is very weak, has very low appetite. X-rays showed a part of her heart enlarged. She started Vetmedin 2 days ago. I'm not asking, what happened to her. It's definitely heart problem. My question is: could Vetmedin or some other medication improve her condition? Of course, she would never heal, but is it possible to improve her quality of life? It's not a fun to urinate every day to floor or dog bed.

Aug. 6, 2018

Nika's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing if Nika is on any other medications, it is difficult for me to comment on her prognosis, but Vetmedin is a very commonly used and effective medication to help improve the quality of life of dogs in heart failure. If the urination is due to her being on Lasix, that may improve when that drug can be decreased, but if it related to other conditions, that may not get better. Since your veterinarian knows more about her situation and health, these are very reasonable questions to ask so that you have more information.

Aug. 6, 2018

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Coco

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Pomchi

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fainting
Screeching
Head Back

Our 5 1/2 year old Pomchi just started fainting and it causes my heart to catch every time she does it. It is usually when she is sleeping or after exertion. She will lean her head back really far toward her tail and let out a cry like tires screeching on pavement, then she passes out and looks lifeless. I rub her chest a few minutes and she starts moving a little and coming back slowly. We took her to the vet after the first day this happened and they said she has congestive heart failure due to a malformed valve she had at birth. She also has a level 2 heart murmur. They also said she has Evan's Syndrome which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the red blood cells and lymphocytes. During the fainting episodes I don't know what to do. It scares me to death. She is only 5 1/2 and the sweetest most loving dog on earth. She does have trouble were it seems like she is choking and then is okay but she has done that her whole life. The vet put her on 3 different medications.

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Tika

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Pomeranian

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Falling Over Difficulty Breathing.

MyDog has in the past 6 months bargain to get up from sleeping and walking toward me and falls down with her legs to the side and screams as if in fear or pain. Some last a few minutes, others have lasted 20 minutes of coughing and trouble breathing. I have had her to my vet and blood work. Heart listened too and everything sounds good. I have had her to emergency twice and they say everything sounds good but a video would be helpful and xrays, more blood work needed. I’m so worried about her and have spent over 1000.00 and have got no answers. They put her on a seizure medication but it hasn’t stopped the attacks? Anyone know what I should do now?

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Jake

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Pug

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures
Choke
Faint

My 5 year old pug starts making a choking noise and tips over with his feet stretched out. then he seems to recover back to normal randomly. It doesn't happen that often but now reading online about it I will take him to the vet for it.

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Boris

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Dogue de Bordeaux

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fainting After Exercise

I have a 4 year old Dogue de Bordeaux, last night he was running around playing with another dog, then he suddenly fell onto his side, his legs were stiff he didn't seem to lose consciousness, his gums and tongue lost all colour and were very pale/grey, this has never happened before, he is booked into vets for a full check but I'm so worried until then.

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Bambam

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Maltese

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Heart Flutter, Faint

Hi everyone! Just experienced something very scary. We were informed by the vet that our 11 year old Maltese mixed fainted. He has now home resting. We have scheduled an appt to a cardiologist but until then we were hoping to get some advice on what we can do until his appt in 2 weeks. Hopefully you guys can share your experience.

Fainting Average Cost

From 12 quotes ranging from $2,500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,800

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