Pet First Aid for Pet Professionals Level 3 (VTQ)

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Near and Secondary Drowning

Video 54 of 176
2 min 13 sec
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Drowning and Secondary Drowning in Pets

Definition of Drowning

Drowning is defined as a fatal outcome within 24 hours of suffocation due to submersion in a liquid, typically fresh water or seawater.

Near Drowning

Near drowning refers to surviving suffocation caused by immersion, with successful resuscitation efforts.

Secondary Drowning

Secondary drowning occurs when fluid accumulates in the lungs after apparent recovery from a near-drowning incident.

Risks for Pets

Dogs and cats that suffocate underwater and are revived may suffer from near-drowning. However, secondary drowning can still occur even after successful revival.

This can happen to animals that become fatigued while swimming or have underlying issues preventing proper swimming, or if they aspirate fluid while in the water.

Immediate Actions

If you find your pet submerged in water:

  1. Immediately remove the pet from the water.
  2. Lift their legs or raise them entirely, letting their head hang down to facilitate drainage from the mouth and nose.
  3. If unconscious, assess for breathing and a pulse and perform CPR if needed.
  4. Transport your pet to a veterinary practice promptly.

Assessment by a Vet

Even if your pet doesn't lose consciousness but may have ingested a large amount of water, consult a vet, as they may be at risk of secondary drowning.

Lung injury and potentially life-threatening electrolyte imbalances can result from aspiration or ingestion of large amounts of water, whether from a pool, saltwater, or freshwater.

Symptoms of Secondary Drowning

Secondary drowning symptoms typically manifest within 1-24 hours of the incident and may include:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Extreme fatigue

Oxygen Administration

If available, administer oxygen to your pet to maintain adequate oxygen levels and compensate for any respiratory issues.