With the rise of apartment living, high-rise falls have become an increasingly common veterinary emergency – so much so that the collection of injuries commonly sustained by affected pets is called “high-rise syndrome”.
What exactly is high-rise syndrome?
This term refers to injuries commonly occurring when a pet falls two storeys or more.
Cats and dogs who fall from significant heights may sustain multiple injuries, which usually involve:
- The face, e.g. tooth fractures, jaw fractures, or damage to the palate
- The chest, e.g. broken ribs or collapsed lungs
- One or more limbs, e.g. fractures or dislocations
These pets may also experience cardiovascular shock (dangerously low blood pressure) due to blood loss.
Less commonly, pets who have fallen from a significant height can also sustain abdominal injuries, such as bleeding within the belly, damage to the liver, or bladder rupture.
How is high-rise syndrome diagnosed?
We highly recommend that animals undergo an immediate veterinary assessment if they fall (or are suspected of having fallen) two or more storeys – even if they “seem fine” initially! Unfortunately, issues such as lung damage may not be immediately evident but can worsen in the hours after the fall.
As well as a complete physical examination to check the pet’s jaw, teeth and oral cavity, assess their musculoskeletal system, palpate their belly, and listen to their chest, we may also advise them to undergo general blood tests and imaging.
Blood tests can help assess the pet for signs of liver or kidney damage, while using x-rays or ultrasound can help us determine if they may have lung bruising, a collapsed lung, or unusual fluid within their belly.
Once we have ascertained the full extent of the pet’s injuries, we can make treatment recommendations to help stabilise their condition and have them feeling on the up very soon!