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Prolonged CRT in Dogs

Prolonged CRT can be a sign of several health issues, including dehydration, shock, anemia, and heart disease. But what is prolonged CRT, and what can it tell you about your dog's health? Today our Santa Cruz vets are here to answer these questions and more.

What is Prolonged CRT in Dogs?

Prolonged CRT, also known as capillary refill time, is a helpful diagnostic tool used to assess your pet's circulatory system by measuring the time it takes for blood to refill the small blood vessels in your dog's gums after they are pressed on. 

Normal color should return to the gum area within 1-2 seconds. If it takes longer than that, your dog may have prolonged CRT. If your pup is experiencing prolonged CRT, it could be an indication of an underlying health issue that is affecting your pet's blood flow.

How is a CRT Test Performed on Dogs?

CRT testing is a simple and non-invasive procedure that can be performed by a veterinarian or pet parent.

To perform a CRT test, lay your dog on their side, and press their gum line gently with your finger. The pressure should be firm enough to cause the gum to turn white but not so firm that it causes discomfort or pain.

After you remove your finger and release the pressure, the color of the gum should return to normal within two seconds. If it takes longer than two seconds for the color to return, the CRT is prolonged.

What Can Prolonged CRT in Dogs Indicate About Your Pet's Health?

If your dog has prolonged CRT it could be an indication of an underlying health issue affecting their circulatory system. Below are some of the conditions that can lead to prolonged CRT:

  • Dehydration: Dehydration occurs when a dog does not have enough water in their body to support normal functioning. Prolonged CRT is a common sign of dehydration in dogs, and other signs may include dry mouth, sunken eyes, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
  • Shock: Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body's organs do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Prolonged CRT can be a sign of shock in dogs. Other signs may include rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, cold extremities, and pale gums.
  • Anemia: Anemia in dogs occurs when the pet does not have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body's organs. Prolonged CRT could be a sign that your dog has anemia. Other signs of anemia include pale gums, lethargy, weakness, and loss of appetite.
  • Heart Disease: Heart disease occurs when your pup's heart is unable to pump blood efficiently through the body. Prolonged CRT may be a sign that your dog is suffering from heart disease. Other signs include coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, and fainting.
  • Blood Loss: Prolonged CRT can be the result of serious blood loss caused by an injury, surgery or other health condition. Other symptoms related to blood loss include pale gums, weakness, rapid breathing, and fast heart rate.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Has Prolonged CRT?

If your dog has prolonged CRT, it is important to seek veterinary care right away. The underlying health issue may be life-threatening, and prompt treatment may be necessary to prevent the issue from becoming more severe.

Your vet may perform additional diagnostic testing, such as blood work or X-rays, to determine the underlying cause of your dog's prolonged CRT.

Treatment will be based on the underlying cause and may include fluid therapy, blood transfusions, medication, or surgery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog experiencing prolonged CRT? Contact Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists right away to book an urgent examination for your four-legged family member!

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Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about restoring good health to Santa Cruz companion animals. We are open 24/7 to provide your pet with care, whenever they need us.

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