Syncope: Fainting in Dogs

Syncope is when a dog has fainting episodes.

Syncope is when a dog loses consciousness for a short time. It happens when the brain doesn't get enough blood and, hence, oxygen.

What Causes Syncope?

Syncope in dogs occurs when the dog loses motor ability and consciousness for a few minutes. Several different things can cause it, including:

Diagnosis of Syncope in Dogs

When a dog is having fainting episodes, the veterinarian will take a thorough history from the owner. Sometimes, that can help narrow down the cause. For instance, the syncope may be situational if it always happens when the dog is defecating. It may be vasovagal if it seems excitement-triggered or related to heart disease if it's associated with exercise.

Then, the veterinarian will do a thorough physical exam to look for more clues. Blood work will reveal a low blood sugar or electrolyte level. A heartworm test may be done as well as x-rays or an echocardiogram to evaluate heart size, shape, and function. An ECG can evaluate heart rhythm.

Treatment of Syncope in Dogs

The treatment of syncope depends on the underlying cause. Medications for heart arrhythmias or other heart problems could be necessary. Dogs with sick sinus syndrome may require a pacemaker.

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