Advanced Pet First Aid Level 3 (VTQ)

137 videos, 6 hours and 55 minutes

Course Content

Near and Secondary Drowning

Video 52 of 137
2 min 13 sec
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Drowning is defined as death within 24 hours of suffocation by submersion in a liquid, normally fresh water or sea water.

Near drowning implies successful resuscitation from suffocation caused by immersion.

Secondary drowning refers to fluid accumulation in the lungs following what appears to be a successful recovery from a near-drowning event.

Dogs or cats that suffocate while submerged underwater and are revived, suffer from near-drowning while secondary drowning can still occur even after they are revived.

This can occur in animals that become tired while swimming, or have a secondary problem that prevents them from swimming appropriately or aspirating fluid while in the water.

If you find your dog or cat submerged in water, immediately remove the pet from the water and lift her legs in the air, or lift them completely, while letting their head hang toward the ground, to allow as much water to drain from the mouth and nose as possible. If they are unconscious, assess for breathing and a pulse and perform CPR, if needed. They should then be immediately transported to a veterinary practice.

Animals that do not lose consciousness but may have ingested a large amount of water should still be assessed by a vet as they may have a secondary drowning. Lung injury and potentially life-threatening electrolyte disturbances may occur from aspiration or ingestion of large amounts of water, whether it is from a pool, or salt or fresh body of water.

Secondary drowning happens when the airway opens up, letting water into the lungs, where it builds up, causing a condition called pulmonary oedema. This causes trouble breathing.

Symptoms of Secondary drowning generally starts, within 1-24 hours of the incident. Secondary drowning symptoms include:

  • Coughing 
  • Chest pain 
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling extremely tired

If you have Oxygen available it should be given to the animal to keep their Oxygen levels at the required level and to compensate for any lack of the performance of the respiratory system.