What to Do If Your Dog Has Been Shocked or Electrocuted - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
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What to Do If Your Dog Has Been Shocked or Electrocuted

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I have a passion for animals. I enjoy researching and writing educational articles to help dog and cat owners become better pet parents.

Call your vet if your dog is electrocuted or shocked. Discover what else you can do in the meantime.

Call your vet if your dog is electrocuted or shocked. Discover what else you can do in the meantime.

The other day, I was sitting at my kitchen table when I heard the most awful howling sound. Before I could even jump from my chair, my beagle, Sadie, was running towards me with a look of terror on her face. My beagle rarely howls, so I knew something was wrong. After spending a few minutes comforting her, I went into the living room to see if I could figure out what had spooked the poor pup. Well, it didn't take me long to notice that the lamp was no longer working due to a chewed-up cord. Unfortunately, Sadie had learned a valuable yet shocking lesson!

After examining Sadie's mouth, I called her veterinarian to ask if there was anything in particular I should do or look for. After all, I had never dealt with an electrocuted dog before. The vet told me to look for signs of swelling and to ice the area that was shocked. She also told me to keep an eye on Sadie for the next few hours to make sure that she didn't act strange or disoriented.

Sadie survived her shocking afternoon and, thankfully, only had to deal with a red and irritated tongue for a short period of time.

What to Do if Your Dog Gets Electrocuted

Thankfully, most household electrical shocks that your pet may experience are not life-threatening (just very scary). However, it should be noted that severe electrical shocks can happen, and they can trigger seizures or even stop your pet's heart. An electrical shock can also cause an abnormal heartbeat or breathing difficulties, two things that you may not notice until several days after the incident.

If your pet is electrocuted, it would be wise to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. They may want to do an examination to make sure that the heart is beating properly and no breathing difficulties are present.

Turn off the Power!

So what do you do if your dog's jaws seem permanently affixed to an electrical cord? The answer to this question is simple: TURN OFF THE POWER!

Why? Well, electrical currents will often cause muscles to go into spasm. When this happens, your dog will, most likely, not be able to let go of the cord. In fact, he may even bite down harder. If the cord is still in your pet's mouth, you must turn off the power before touching your pet, or there is a great chance that you will be electrocuted as well.

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Perform CPR if Necessary

Electricity can cause an abnormal heartbeat. This is because the electric current disrupts the heart's normal electrical impulses. If your pet collapses and has stopped breathing, you will need to perform CPR as soon as possible.

  • Wrap your hand around your dog's muzzle (so that his mouth is closed) and then blow into his nose with two quick breaths.
  • Make sure to watch his chest to see if it moves (it should rise).
  • Give 15 to 20 breaths per minute until your dog begins to breathe on his own.
  • After each breath, it is important that you watch to make sure his chest is rising, then remove your lips so that the air can escape.

Please watch the video below to learn more about performing CPR on your canine companion. As I always say, knowledge is power!

Seizures

If your dog has a seizure after being electrocuted, do not panic! It is important that you stay calm so that you can help your pooch.

  • First of all, most seizures are not as serious as they appear. Though they may look incredibly scary, they usually stop within two to three minutes.
  • In the meantime, place a dark towel over your dog's face. By doing this, you will shut out light and noise, which can help to end the seizure more quickly.
  • If possible, do not touch or speak to your pet. By doing so, you are stimulating their brain, which can possibly cause the seizure to last longer.

So let's review: If your pet electrocutes himself and then has a seizure, you should place a small, dark towel over his face (make sure he can still breathe) and do not speak or touch him. Once your dog appears stable, take him to the vet as soon as possible for further examination.

I want to also point out the importance of keeping your pet calm and quiet. Why? Well, dogs that have been shocked may suffer lung damage (which in turn can cause breathing problems). Stress will only increase your dog's oxygen needs and put further demand on already damaged lungs. Speak in a soothing, calm voice, place your pet in a dark pet carrier and get him to the vet's office as soon as possible.

Ice

Most dogs suffer only minor burns after being electrocuted. My beagle, Sadie, suffered a minor shock after chewing on a lamp cord (no permanent or serious damage done). If your dog suffers a minor shock, ice is the best treatment.

Because it is very difficult to ice a dog's mouth or tongue, simply fill his water bowl with ice cubes. The ice cold water will numb the area for a short period of time, bringing some much needed relief. Obviously, it is best to apply ice directly to the burned area, in a baggie or wrapped in cloth. If your dog allows this, great!

It is important to note that mouth burns can take a long time to heal. This is because the mouth is always wet and tends to become infected easily. If your dog's mouth does not heal or he seems to be in pain (due to an infection), take him to the veterinarian, as antibiotics may be necessary.

Sadie the Beagle. Alive and well after chewing on an electrical cord.

Sadie the Beagle. Alive and well after chewing on an electrical cord.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

Julia on May 19, 2019:

My dog literally just got shocked. Me and my brother were home alone. We went to our neighbor because our dog was just laying there not moving but breathing. Then as we were taking her to the neighbors she started moving. Now she’s moving fully and seems okay. Is she going to be okay? Like is there an after shock that will affect her?

Bonnie on October 07, 2018:

My 3 pound.... six month old chihuahua got into a deer electric fence today. She seems ok, but one of her ears is drooping. We suspect that it was her ear that hit the fence. My husband and I are just sick. We have worked really hard to protect her because of her small size. Do you think she will be ok? Will her ear come back up? We will take her to the vet in the morning.

Thank you for your king consideration.

Mark and Bunny

Patricia Hale on July 12, 2018:

Thank you so much. Other articles are clinical, yours are heartfelt. My little cavalier King Charles spaniel just bit a cord, luckily I was looking for her. I didn't know what was happening and tried to grab her, she kicked me away (thank God). I unplugged the lamp. She had seizures. I just tried to comfort her, then she started howling. She stopped after a couple of minutes. She now just wants to curl up and be left alone. She's walking, she's wagging her tail, and she did eat a treat. I think she's going to be ok.

Auna on September 08, 2017:

My little chihuahua/Italian greyhound mix just bit through my heating pad cord. It scared me but I unplugged it and got him free. He went ridged at first while the cord was in his mouth but came right out of it. I came and searched what to do and found this post. It is very helpful thank you. I would be heartbroken if I had lost him. He is my world. Vet says he will be fine even referred to the little pup (born October last year) as a timax I'm still in shock but he said Bo should be just fine. That I did the right thing. Wwe just moved into our new home so I hadn't gotten everything puppy proofed. I called my ex husband right after it happened and told him he has to come this weekend to move the other fridge into the store room as I don't want anymore chances since I had to run and extension cord to the spare fridge. So that will be taken care of. Thank you again. Your post was helpful as for after care with the ice.

Ida on July 27, 2017:

My little miniature dog just not tha lamp cord, she wasn't moving at all looked lifeless, but my daughter n law grabbed her and thankfully she is alive, but is breathing fast, she wasn't moving at all, she is now trying but she won't open her mouth...please help

Jon on June 08, 2017:

Good information here. I stayed home sick from work and while napping I heard our new pup yelp and noticed right away that the fan turned off. I literally dove off the bed and unplugged the power strip from the outlet. I think she was shocked momentarily as she completely pierced the (obviously hot) wire in half. She seized for a few seconds but immediately came to. I do not see any swelling. A few hours later I have completely puppy proofed the house. Ill keep an eye on the pup as well.

Sandra on November 23, 2016:

My little Chihuahua just got shock chewing an extension cord. I was so glad to read your posts.

Daisy's mommy on July 08, 2016:

After being shocked. Do they leave cords alone?

Ron on March 28, 2016:

53 years ago, knowing our cat had a tendency to chew electric wires/flexes as well as string, I tried this: holding one wire from the output of a 12-volt transformer, I allowed/encouraged him to chew the other one, then held my wire into the fur on his back. He spat the wire out very vigourously and gave me a FILTHY look, but he never again chewed at a wire, having learnt that it was very different from string!

Kelly on May 30, 2015:

My little sausage dog bit into a cord and and got shocked, I have taken her to the vet, but now she is druling and can't walk properly. And is delirious. I don't know if she has been poisened or if this is from the shock?

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on May 04, 2013:

Hi Leslie....

Thank you for posting a comment! I think your idea is great and I hope it helps other dog owners.

Leslie on May 03, 2013:

My dog luckly has not been shocked but has chewed through two lamp cords, I have to have lamps (apartment does not have ceiling lights) after he chewed my second lamp cord (light switch was off that controls the power to the lamps) I decided to protect my dog and new lamps by buying 1/2 coupling pvc pipes and using a hacksaw cut a slit through each one (took about 35 couplings for one lamp) then I spray painted them brown and used small needle pliers to open them and put the lamp cable through them. Lamp cables are now dog prof!

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on September 16, 2011:

Kathy...thank you for your comment. I am VERY SORRY about the death of your beloved Yorkie mix. I know first-hand how difficult it is to lose a beloved pet. Also..thank you so much for your comment. It is important to warn others about how serious chewing on a lamp chord can be!

Kathy Martin on September 16, 2011:

I just wante everyone to know that a pup chewing thru a laqmp cord can be fatal. I came home yesterday & heard only 1 dog barking. That's because his brother Yorkie-Llasa mixes) was laying on the floor dead, with the electrical cord clenched between his teeth. Everyone, please watch out for cord chewing. I (and his brother) am devastated.

KenWu from Malaysia on May 08, 2011:

I don't keep dog but I should pass this info to my friends that have dogs.

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on March 26, 2011:

Thank you for your comments!

Donna Cosmato from USA on March 24, 2011:

Good information that every pet owner should know. Voted up and useful.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on March 23, 2011:

I don't have any pets, but I can see where this will be useful to anyone who does. Voted up and useful.