My dog drowns: why and what do I do?
Have you ever noticed that your dog coughs or drowns? Don’t overlook this and go to the veterinarian so that he can treat it in time and that it doesn’t get worse, since some of the causes of this symptom could end your dog’s life. If you have noticed that your dog gets tired and drowns easily, you may be facing a heart problem, among which the most common are dilated cardiomyopathy and valve degeneration. Other causes that cause a dog to drown are breathing problems and, although there are several diseases at the respiratory level, the most frequent for which your dog has this symptom are usually laryngitis, tracheitis and bronchitis, as well as pneumonia, pulmonary edema and brachiocephalic syndrome. However, there are more possible causes, such as heat stroke and more.
In this article from info-grinik we answer the question of “why does my dog drown and what do I do?”, so keep reading because we explain the causes and also how to perform first aid in case of choking or drowning to be able to save your dog in a critical situation.
Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs
It is common in large and middle-aged dogs, mainly of the cocker, boxer and doberman breeds. In this chronic pathology there is a failure in the contractibility of the myocardium and there is always a residue of blood in the ventricle after systole. To compensate for this, the heart dilates more and more and this makes the picture worse. The compensatory mechanisms delay symptoms but aggravate the disease and cause that when the dog shows symptoms the disease is advanced.
This results in a globose heart, unable to contract effectively. The symptoms are:
- Pulmonary edema.
- Fast tiredness.
As a result of these symptoms and the problem itself, another of the most notorious signs of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is choking.
The veterinarian will be responsible for making the diagnosis by x-ray, ultrasound and electrocardiogram to assess the severity and apply the treatment that usually consists of diuretics to decrease edema, a medicine called pimobendan to improve contractility and as a vasodilator and ACE inhibitors, which are vasodilators and also decrease water retention. In addition, if there are arrhythmias, it should be treated with lidocaine or similar.
It is common in small and elderly dogs, mainly of the poodle, teckel, Chihuahua or mestizos breed. The problem of these hearts falls on the valves of the heart, mainly the mitral one. These valves do not close properly and cause blood reflux to the atria. This consequently causes the blood coming out of the heart to be insufficient and compensatory mechanisms are triggered, as in the previous case. The result is also an enlargement of the heart, which is not able to pump enough blood. The symptoms are almost the same as in dilated cardiomyopathy and it is treated with diuretics and ACE inhibitors.
Any heart failure can cause the lack of oxygen in the dog and its drowning. Heart cans are caused by pulmonary congestion and because the heart is so large that it presses on the windpipe. That is why it is frequent that in the face of this cough occurs more frequently at night, because when lying down, the pressure exerted is greater and therefore sometimes dogs that have this problem get tired and drown easily.
Laryngitis, tracheitis and bronchitis
Other reasons why a dog drowns are laryngitis, tracheitis and bronchitis. This is inflammation of the mucosa of the different parts of the respiratory system. Generally, they are bacterial, viral or fungal infections and will require specific treatment according to the type of microorganisms, in addition to mucolytic.
This inflammation produces cough with or without mucus. It is better to treat it as soon as possible and correctly, otherwise it could be chronic and the dog will drown more, hindering its day to day or even appearing more serious secondary problems. Tracheal narrowing is frequent in small dogs that produces chronic tracheitis, with coughing and drowning, which can lead to a tracheal collapse.
Pneumonia in dogs
It is inflammation of the pulmonary structures, so a dog drowns when having pneumonia is very normal and it is one of the symptoms that do not alert of this problem that must be treated as soon as possible. Its severity can be assessed by x-rays of the lung area, auscultation and checking for fever.
The cause and treatment of pneumonia in dogs will be like in the previous problem. Sometimes you start with a broad-spectrum antibiotic and if there is no improvement you should have a culture and specific tests to determine which antibiotic of choice. Corticosteroids and theophylline usually improve the picture by decreasing inflammation and dilating the bronchi.
It occurs when the lung fills with fluid preventing oxygenation from the blood. There are many probable causes: heart, kidney, liver disease, trauma, serious infections …
Treatment begins with diuretics to reduce edema and oxygen administration. The veterinarian will assess what needs to be done most depending on what he sees has been the main cause of the edema that causes the dog to drown.
It occurs in breeds with a head wider than long (bulldog, carlino or pug, boxer…), that is, they have a flat face. This causes the palate to be wider than normal and can obstruct the airways, in addition the pots are usually narrow and do not capture a sufficient amount of air. So, the respiratory capacity of these dogs is in itself much lower than normal. The symptoms are drowning due to little effort, snoring, coughing, exercise intolerance, constant wheezing, syncopes …
The best option is preventive surgery that consists of expanding the opening of the pots and shortening the soft palate. Detecting this problem prematurely and operating on the dog greatly improves its quality of life.
Heat stroke in dogs
With high temperatures your dog could suffer a heat stroke if he is exposed to the sun for too long. This problem happens due to a rise in body temperature and you have to act quickly, otherwise the dog could drown.
If you have noticed that your dog is suffering a heat stroke, take it and take it to a cool, airy place sheltered from the sun to try to lower its temperature as soon as possible. First apply cloths wet with fresh water on the head, neck, armpits and abdomen of the dog. Take care that it is not too cold, since the goal is to lower its temperature gradually. Then apply cold water on his foot pads and invite him to drink, you can give him a syringe from time to time whenever he consents. Take your temperature from time to time and make sure it returns to normal (38-39). If you see that it doesn’t improve or that your dog is unconscious and drowns, go quickly to the veterinarian so he can help him.
Other causes why your dog drowns
Here are other causes that cause drowning in dogs:
- Foreign bodies in the respiratory system: another cause why your dog can cough and drown is due to the aspiration of some foreign object, which may be obstructing the larynx producing coughing, drowning and sometimes suffocation. Faced with this, first aid must be performed for a drowning dog, which we explain below to try to expel the object that has been stuck and does not let it breathe properly.
- Poisoning: in the face of poisoning the dog can suffer vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes bloody, weakness, loss of appetite, seizures, suffocation … Faced with this, you must go to the veterinarian quickly so that he can purify the animal’s body as soon as possible in order to prevent it from losing his life. If you have been able to see how your friend ingests a substance toxic to him and it has not been more than three hours since then then try to induce vomiting by making him drink oxygenated water.
- Allergies: an allergic reaction can also cause the dog to drown. The veterinarian will be in charge of administering the correct treatment.
What to do if my dog drowns
The best option if you have noticed that your dog gets tired too fast or drowns is to go to the veterinarian as soon as possible to look for serious pathologies, because if there are any, the sooner the treatment is applied the better quality of life your furry will have.
If you know exactly that your dog has suffered a heat stroke, has choked on a foreign object or any of the above causes where you do not have a veterinarian nearby and you can try to help your dog, try doing the respiratory rescue maneuvers or the steps to follow in the event of a heat stroke, then take your dog to the veterinarian so that he can check that everything is fine.
Heimlich maneuver in dogs
The Heimlich maneuver in dogs is a technique that consists of producing the expulsion through the mouth of any object that has become stuck in the animal’s respiratory tract, usually at the height of the larynx or trachea, and is causing it to drown. Follow these steps to do the Heimlich maneuver on dogs:
- Grab your dog from behind, placing its back on your chest and surrounding its waist.
- Keeping the dog standing looks for the mouth of his stomach, which is located in the lower and central part of the ribs, just where the breastbone ends and a slight hole is noticed.
- Place three or four fingers on the mouth of your stomach if the dog is small or place your fist if the dog is large.
- With the other hand you must apply pressures on your hand placed at this particular point. They must be strong and firm pressures and you or someone who is with you will have to check from time to time if the object has already been expelled by the mouth.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation in dogs
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation in dogs or rescue breathing in dogs should only be applied in case the dog has been drowning to the point that it no longer breathes and if you do not hear or notice its heartbeat either.
- He knocks your dog on his right side, let the left side (on which the heart is) be looking at you, and stretch his tongue until he leaves it as externalized as you can and to one side.
- Perform a heart massage. Place one hand on the other between the third and fifth intercostal space. To locate this point more easily, flex the dog’s front leg and see where he touches the elbow in the chest; this is the height at which the heart is.
- Start performing compressions in the mentioned place and then take the breaths. To do this, grab the dog’s muzzle so that you can surround his nose well with your hands to breathe the air when you breathe out hard. Place your hands so that you see that hardly any air can escape around, so that the maximum enters directly.
- For every 15 compressions perform 5 breaths if the dog is large and for every 10 compressions 3 breaths if the dog is small, so on until the dog breathes again on its own. As soon as you can, call the veterinarian and go to the consultation to check the condition of your dog.
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