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LennyDVM, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 548
Experience:  30 years as owner of a mobile practice treating dogs, cats, horses and other pets.
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I have a 13 yr. old female lab. who has been passing out when

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I have a 13 yr. old female lab. who has been passing out when she gets excited, ie: barking at the UPS truck or when she exerts herself play with a tennis ball. She gets starey eyed and just falls over. When she comes to, in approx. 30/40 sec. she seems normal. I had her examined by my vet and he feels it is a heart problem. He suggested i give her 1 81 mg. aspirin 2 x daily. This has not made any significant change in her condition nor has it reduced her episodes. I will be contacting my vet concerning alternative treatment. He had mentioned putting her on digoxin. I would appriciate your opinion on this matter and if you have any thoughts I could further discuss with my vet.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  LennyDVM replied 8 years ago.

The condition you describe sounds like fainting or syncope.


There are several possible causes including

  • Severe anemia that results in inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain
  • Severe respiratory disease or airway obstruction causing decreased oxygen passing from the lungs to the blood
  • Heart disease is by far the most common cause

Syncope can look like a seizure, but can be distinguished from seizures because pupils in the eyes are not dilated, the heart rate and temperature are usually normal and the gums and tongue may appear blue from lack of oxygen during syncope.


Diagnosis of the cause requires some diagnostic testing. X-rays can detect lung disease and changes in heart size. ECGs are used to detect arrhythmias. Ultrasonography helps look at structure and function.


Treatment ultimately depends on the specific cause. Digoxin and furosemide used to be mainstays of treatment. Currently, a lot of drugs are available allowing better control of heart problems. for example, a combination of diltiazem and digoxin is used for heart rate control, diuretics help reduce pulmonary edema and pimobendan is a newer drug that is proving useful in heart failure and syncope.


There are quite a few cardiologists in private practice. If there is one in your area, a referral from your vet would get you the benefit of the expertise of a person who treats only heart disease.




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