Electric Shock – Electrocution

Electric Shock – Electrocution

Electric Shock is a serious business whether you are a human, a dog or any other living being come to that.  With pets who like to gnaw such as rabbits or rats for example, or with puppies and adolescent animals or perhaps those “entertaining” themselves due to separation anxiety, it can be a real worry.  The most usual source of electrocution comes when a domestic cable is chewed through by an unsupervised pet, with disastrous consequences but there are other causes such as faulty wiring, a direct strike by lightning or even coming into contact with live power lines or sub stations (if power lines are down due to a storm, please ensure you stay WELL away).

Sometimes, it might be that you weren’t actually there when the shock happened and as such, you may need to get your detective’s hat on to work out what has happened – particularly as with more mild or moderate electrocution the evidence may not present itself for up to a couple of days after the event.  If you have any queries that an accident has happened, you need to refer to something called Signs and Symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms:
Signs are something that you can see for yourself, even if the animal is unconscious.
Symptoms are things that we can only see by the behaviours of the animals to alert us to how they are feeling inside.  Armed with these two aspects, we can then put together what has happened.  You should check:

Where is the animal?  Is he near a cable or power source
If he is near the cable, is it damaged?
Can you see any burns on the animal (remember to look for an entry and exit wound)
Does the animal look scared or is acting out of character or hiding away?
Is he drooling or reluctant to eat/drink in which case he could have damaged his mouth?
Is he unconscious or dead in the vicinity of a damaged cable or power supply?
Is he breathing normally?
Is his heart rate normal?
Are his gums the normal colour ie baby pink?

Electric Shock has levels of severity from:

* very mild such that you would get from static

* mild to moderate which could elicit burns or ulcers to the part that connected with the power supply

* severe which would Effect the internal organs (brain, heart, lungs etc) and could cause death

If the electrocution is severe and the lungs have been effected, you may not see the signs for as much as a couple of days.  The lungs can fill with fluid due to the damage making it incredibly difficult for the dog to breathe.  This poor breathing will reduce his oxygen levels which is, in essence, why the dog is in shock (medical definition of shock is anything that causes lowered levels of oxygen).  If the heart has been effected you may discover an irregular heart rhythm or a heart attack, the reduction of oxygen from which can cause collapse and a deterioration in brain function or, sadly, death.

What should you do?

If you discover your dog and think he has been electrocuted, it is very important to keep a cool head and work through your steps in a safe and methodical manner – if you do not keep yourself from harm’s way, you will be no use to your pet.  To do this, we use DRABC:

D = Danger – make it safe for you and the dog including:

* switch off any power supply
* if you cannot switch off the power, can you knock the dog away from the supply with a wooden object?
* if you cannot knock your dog away, alert the emergency services ASAP
* if you are outdoors, alert any traffic to your presence
* secure any other dogs you have with you so that you can help
* muzzle the injured animal to protect yourself

R = Response – check your dog’s level of consciousness

A = Airway – tilt the head back, extend the neck and pull the tongue forward

B = Breathing – check that the dog is breathing

C = Circulation – check for a pulse/heartbeat


If circulation is present but NO BREATHING – perform artificial respiration
(see previous blog as per the following link) https://rhodes2safety.com/k9-tip-of-the-day-artificial-respiration/

If there is NO CIRCULATION – perform CPR (see previous blog as per the following link) https://rhodes2safety.com/?s=cpr

If there IS circulation & breathing, place your dog on his side and elevate his rear end slightly to encourage oxygenated blood to flow to his brain and heart then perform a secondary survey as follows:-

Check for the 4 B’s ie Bleeding, Breaks, Burns and Bruises, starting at the head and checking down the body from chest, spine, ribcage, stomach, thighs and finally legs.

Place the dog on your jacket or blanket to carry him carefully to your car and transport to the vet.  If you have somebody with you, commence your CPR or AR immediately while your friend phones the vet and continue the procedure during the journey to the vet’s office while your friend drives.

If you have any concerns at all that your dog has suffered an electric shock, please contact your vet immediately for an urgent appointment.

If you notice burns on your dog, you can treat those immediately while you wait to see the vet:

  1.  run the affected area under cold water for a MINIMUM of 10 minutes, or until the skin is cold – therefore, if after having run the burn under cold water for 10 minutes there is still any heat left in the burn, you must continue until such time as all the redness and heat has left the wound.
  2. When you have finished cooling the burn, it is perfectly fine to keep it covered with a moist clean dressing to keep the skin cold and wet.
  3. You can use cling film which will do the same job PROVIDED YOU ARE 100% SURE THE WOUND IS COLD.  If you use cling film and there is any heat left in the wound, you will merely keep the heat in and cook the wound still further.
  4. If the dog will not allow you to do this and refuses to stand for 10 minutes with a running hose over it (no surprise there), you can try placing ice cubes or frozen peas in a clean, wet, tea towel and keeping it in contact with the affected area, again for a minimum of 10 minutes.
  5. Remember that the fur might well be masking the size and severity of the burn too and it is often necessary to cut away the fur to expose the area so you can see more clearly what you are dealing with.  Burns are very painful and it is often sensible to apply a makeshift muzzle to ensure your own safety