Collapse in Dogs

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra,

I have a 2 year old rottie, he weighs around 115 lb. My problem is when we take a walk and he sees a cat he will pull on the leash so hard that he sometimes collapse because of choke but its only for about a second and then gets up. My question is that the collapse he suffered is that because of choke? Or is it a cause of a disease that I don't know?

Handy Go


Thanks for your question. Dogs that pull hard in a leash can choke themselves. They can basically decrease blood supply to their brains and collapse. It is generally temporary. However, there are other diseases that can cause a fainting type event when a dog is excited.

I'd recommend two things. First, I'd recommend that you have your dog evaluated at your local veterinarian. They may want to listen to the heart for any abnormalities. They may even want your dog to wear an event monitor that allows them to see what the heart is doing during these events to ensure there is not underlying disease.

My other recommendation is to work on preventing your dog from pulling on the leash. 115 pounds is a lot of weight to be pulling and it must be hard work for you. Training your dog not to pull on the leash requires patience and a lot of time from you. One useful tool to help is the head halter. This device gives you much better control and doesn't put pressure on the windpipe.

I recommend you read the following articles that I think will help you a lot. The first is about Using Head Halters in Dog Training and the second is a more general article about Dealing with a Leash Pulling Dog.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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