Is an Unresponsive Dog an Emergency?

Unresponsive dog is not a dog that is disobedient but a dog that doesn’t react to stimuli.

Your dog’s body might be unable to react, or their brain function is compromised. They might be extremely weak, unconscious, in a state of stupor or in a coma.

A dog so unwell that they are not responding is an emergency.

Is an Unresponsive Dog an Emergency?

Rufus’ story

I still remember our neighbor’s dog like it was yesterday. I went to do something in the kitchen when I noticed a neighbor’s dog laying on the front lawn, being hosed down. He was unaware of his surroundings. his erratic breathing resembling some kind of spasms.

I came out to see what happened to be told that he collapsed on a walk. They believed he was suffering from the heat; that’s why they were hosing him down. I wouldn’t dare to make an assessment of what was wrong with him, but I knew he needed a vet immediately whatever it was.

At my insistence, they wrapped him in wet towels and drove off to an emergency hospital where he died shortly after arrival from heart failure.

Rufus’ story: Sudden Collapse in a Dog: Spoil Your Dog Like There Is No Tomorrow

If your dog is unresponsive, their body is in big trouble.


Stupor, or decreased consciousness is diminished awareness or alertness. Coma is a complete absence of consciousness.

Levels of consciousness

The five levels of consciousness in dogs are:

  • normal
  • depression, quietness
  • disorientation
  • stupor
  • coma

Further information: Coma, Stupor and Decreased Consciousness in Dogs

Some of the potential causes include:

  • severe advanced infection
  • heart failure
  • liver or kidney failure
  • severe neurological problem
  • trauma
  • poisoning
  • diabetes
  • hypoglycemia
  • shock
  • coma

Even on the day of her worst horror, Jasmine was still responsive. Even though she couldn’t stand up or walk, she was feeling terribly miserable, her spirit and mind were fully there. The only time Roxy was unresponsive was during her seizures.

Related articles:
Dog Symptoms: When Is It an Emergency?

Further reading:
Coma, Stupor and Decreased Consciousness in Dogs

Categories: EmergenciesSymptomsUnresponsive

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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