Electrical Shock

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First Aid for Electric Shock

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Electricity is dangerous, especially around young dogs and incorrigible chewers. However, if your dog suffers an electric shock it is essential that you consider your own safety before helping.

What To Watch For

A convulsing or rigid dog lying on or near a power cable or other electrical source may be suffering an electric shock. The dog may not be right on the cable as pools of liquid, including urine, can carry electric current. Roots of trees are also known to carry electricity in cases of lightning.

Primary Cause

Chewing power cables is the most common cause of electric shock in dogs.

Immediate Care

Do not touch the dog or fluids in contact with it, especially if the animal is rigid – you may receive a fatal electric shock yourself. Instead, you should:

  • Turn off the electricity at its source, if possible.
  • If you can’t turn off the current, use a wooden broom handle (or other long, non-conductive object) to move the dog a good distance from the source of electricity and any pools of liquid.
  • Check the dog’s pulse and breathing, giving CPR and artificial respiration as needed.
  • If the dog’s mouth has been burned, use cold compresses to limit the damage. See “Burns and Scalding” for further treatment guidelines.

Once the dog appears to recover:

  • Take it to the vet immediately
  • Monitor its breathing and pulse regularly for 12 hours.

Even if your dog appears to recover completely and normally from an electric shock, it is vital to take it to see the vet. Internal damage, shock and fluid build-up in the lungs may not be outwardly visible, but can cause serious trouble hours after the accident.

Other Causes

Although it is rare, a male dog urinating on an exposed power line or electrical source may cause the current to “jump” and give it a shock. Even rarer are cases of dogs being struck by lightning, though the effects are similar.

Prevention

Electricity should always be treated with care: consider your dog as a small, inquisitive child and take appropriate measures to safeguard them in the home.

  • Cover power cables if possible or spray them with a bitter-tasting compound to deter puppies and chewers from investigating.
  • If your dog is still very young, never leave it alone in a room with live power cables or uncovered sockets.
  • Examine the surroundings and clean up any trailing electrical cords. Extension leads can help keep cables close to the walls, out of sight behind furniture, etc.
  • Always turn off electrical sockets when not in use – it’s not only safer, it’ll save you money on equipment that runs on standby!

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