By Dr. Becker
Electrical injuries are very dangerous, and when it comes to dogs, are most often seen in youngsters and habitual chewers.
As terrifying as it is to think about, if your canine companion should suffer an electric shock injury, would you know what to do?
Most Dogs Suffer an Electric Shock by Doing This
If you find your dog either convulsing or lying rigid on or near an electrical source, he may be suffering an electric shock. If he’s near but not actually on a power cable, he might still be getting electrical current from a nearby source (a puddle of liquid or even a tree root).
The likely cause of the injury is that your dog chewed on the power cable, as this is the most common source of electric shock in dogs. Once in awhile, a male dog urinating on an exposed power line or electrical source may suffer a shock. Even more rare are lightning strikes, but the effects are similar.
The Right Way to Give Aid to a Dog with an Electric Shock Injury
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s extremely important that you don’t touch your dog or come in contact with any fluids around him, especially if he’s lying rigid, as you could receive a fatal electric shock.
Instead, take these steps:
- If possible, turn off the electricity at its source
- If you can’t turn off the electricity, use a wooden stick like a broom handle or another long object that won’t conduct electric current, and push your dog a good distance away from the source of electricity and any pools of liquid.
- Check your pet’s pulse and breathing, and provide CPR and artificial respiration if necessary.
- If your dog’s mouth has been burned, apply cold compresses to limit the damage.
- Get your pet to your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal hospital. Even if your dog appears to recover quickly and completely from an electric shock, it’s still very important to take him to a vet. Internal damage, shock, and fluid accumulation in the lungs might not be immediately obvious, but can cause a health crisis several hours after the accident.
Preventing a Tragedy
Sources of electricity should be treated with caution, and keep in mind that your dog is a bit like an inquisitive toddler who must be protected from household hazards.
When possible, move power cables out of reach. Alternatively, you can cover them or spray them with a bitter-tasting compound to make them unappetizing for your pet. Use extension leads to keep cables close to walls or out of sight behind furniture.
If your dog is very young or an incurable chewer, never leave her alone in a room with live power cables or uncovered electrical sockets.
American Red Cross Pet First Aid App
If your pet has an emergency, it can be very difficult to stay calm and think about what you need to do first. The American Red Cross has a pet first aid app for iPhones and Android phones available at the Apple App Store, Google Play, or Amazon.com. Features include:1
- Convenient toggle between cat and dog content.
- Simple step-by-step instructions guide you through everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand.
- Prepare and protect your pet’s health with advice on administering medication, time to say goodbye, behavioral help, and how to act in a disaster situation.
- Early warning sign checker for preventive care.
- Programmable veterinary contact number to be available when needed throughout the app.
- Learn first aid steps for over 25 common pet situations through a combination of text, video, and images, in addition to identifying common toxic substances.
- Locate your nearest emergency vet hospital or pet-friendly hotels.
- Respond to pet emergencies with “how to” videos for the common and stressful emergency situations inclusive of size specific CPR techniques.
- Customize multiple pet profiles and set veterinary appointments.
- Interactive quizzes allow you to earn badges that you can share with your friends along with a picture of your pet.