Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Cardiogenic Shock in Dogs

Cardiogenic shock is from heart failure.

Cardiogenic shock occurs when a dog's heart function is so impaired that the organ is unable to pump enough blood to the tissues. It can also be called cardiac decompensation, and it is a life-threatening condition.

What Causes Canine Cardiogenic Shock?

The causes of cardiogenic shock are those that cause heart failure and can include:

Signs of Cardiogenic Shock

The signs of cardiogenic shock are those associated with poor perfusion (not enough oxygen getting to the tissues) and can include:

  • Pale gums and tongue
  • Cool or cold paws
  • Cough
  • Increased capillary refill time (time for blood to re-perfuse an area of gum depressed by a fingertip)
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Mental slowness
  • Harsh lung sounds
  • Low blood pressure

Diagnosis of Cardiogenic Shock in Dogs

A veterinarian will diagnose the condition based on a thorough physical exam and history taken from you.

In addition, chest x-rays may show an enlarged heart or fluid around the heart or in the lungs. There may be an audible heart murmur and/or crackles in the lungs when the veterinarian listens to the dog's chest with a stethoscope.

An echocardiogram will reveal problems with the heart, including decreased pumping pressure. It may also help diagnose the underlying condition.

Bloodwork may show changes if septicemia is the cause of the cardiogenic shock.

Treatment of Canine Cardiogenic Shock

The shock condition must be treated first and aggressively, sometimes even before diagnosis. The dog may need oxygen therapy, and the doctor may need to drain fluid from the sac around the heart (pericardium). Medications may be necessary to support the dog and get him stabilized.

Once the dog is stable, diagnosis of the underlying condition should commence, and treatment targets the exact condition.

Cardiac arrest with sudden death is a strong possibility at any time during cardiogenic shock.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Echocardiography in Dogs

X-Rays in Dogs: What Can They Tell Your Vet?

Hypovolemic Shock in Dogs

Septic Shock in Dogs

Anaphylaxis in Dogs

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.