Exercise Intolerance and collapse in dogs can be a scary situation for owners. While some breeds are more prone than others, this condition can be a cause for concern for everyone involved.
What is Exercise Intolerance or Collapse in Dogs
Exercise intolerance can occur as a side effect from underlying conditions or without any specific reason. In the case of underlying conditions, unfit dogs, dogs with heart or lung problems, dogs with low blood sugar or dogs with a muscular disease may experience exercise intolerance followed by collapse. For dogs with EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) as a condition, moderate or extreme prolonged exercise will lead to ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of movements) followed by collapse, without any other underlying condition.
When a dog experiences exercise intolerance, they are unable to sustain exercise in moderate amounts for a prolonged period of time. Depending on the dog, this may range from a few minutes of walking to several minutes of running. Dogs may lose their balance, walk around without coordination, begin to pant heavily, or collapse and be unable to move or get back up. Dogs that show severe distress after an episode may require medical treatment to return back to normal.
How Can I Prevent Exercise Intolerance and Collapse in Dog
If you know the signs of this collapse and focus on treating underlying diseases and exercising your dog to his individual limits can help prevent intolerance and collapse in your furry friend. For dogs with an underlying condition, such as low blood sugar or muscle disease, it is best to provide treatment and supplements to help the muscles or a meal to increase blood sugar levels prior to activity to prevent an episode. If you keep affected dogs on a moderate exercise routine, you can keep them in shape without pushing them into an episode.
For dogs that are out of shape or have specific conditions, such as heart or lung problems, starting with a low amount of exercise, such as a short walk, can help strengthen the body. Dogs that are otherwise healthy can begin to prepare for a longer exercise regimen, such as hiking or jogging, over a period of time. Care should also be taken to provide cool shade and water to prevent overheating and collapse. Dogs with EIC should be kept on low or moderate levels of exercise only to prevent an EIC episode from occurring.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Exercise Intolerance or Collapse In Dog
If your dog begins to show signs of exercise intolerance, such as heavy panting, laying down, or refusal to move, it is crucial to immediately bring the activity to an end. You should try to move your dog to a cool, shaded location and provide water from a water bottle to return him to normal. You may then want to wait a day or two before returning to normal activity.
If your dog collapses and is unable to move or shows signs of respiratory distress, such as heavy panting, gasping for air or pale or blue gums, it may indicate a medical emergency or an underlying condition. If you are able to return your dog to normal by moving him to shade and stopping the activity, an appointment should still be made with a local veterinarian to check for any health problems. If acute distress is seen, dogs should be immediately brought to a clinic or emergency hospital for care.
Your vet will most likely perform a complete exam and may recommend blood work or X-rays to check for underlying conditions, such as heart and lung issues, muscular issues, or low blood sugar. The vet can then offer a treatment plan to improve the condition as well as an exercise plan appropriate for your dog’s physical needs. This may include reducing the amount of exercise for a period of time to return to health.
For dogs with EIC, your vet may recommend moderate exercise and low-energy activities to keep your dog in shape. Many dogs can live normal and healthy lives with EIC and can perform most normal activities without any problem. Some of these dogs may be able to return to more intensive activities with Phenobarbital treatment; however, it is not recommended.
Natural Remedies for Exercise Intolerance or Collapse In Dogs
The best natural remedy for treating exercise intolerance is to keep your dog healthy and in shape. If you can provide a nice, balanced diet to keep blood sugar levels in check and ensure regular walks, fetch or other activities, you can help keep your dog healthy without needed medications.
You can help boost the immune system with herbs, such as Echinacea and Garlic, to prevent disease or illness that could affect exercise tolerance. For dogs with underlying conditions, providing natural remedies in addition to traditional care may be best for preventing intolerance and collapse.