Dog Strokes – What You Need To Know
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Dogs and humans experience many of the same health conditions. It includes strokes or an interruption in blood flow to the brain. Without adequate blood flow to the brain, oxygen cannot reach the brain’s cells. It causes stroke indications and potential complications afterward. In this article, we will cover the signs that your dog may be having a stroke, what you should do, and what to expect for your dog’s recovery after a stroke.
Can dogs have strokes?
Strokes in dogs are different than strokes in people. Still, dog strokes can be severe and always require immediate veterinary care. Strokes in dogs are not always fatal, but the faster you get your dog in for care, the better chance they will have to recover.
Of course, dogs cannot tell you in words that they are having a stroke. But they will give you signs that something is wrong. Dog strokes are often sudden. So, it is essential to identify stroke symptoms and quickly respond if your dog has one.
Signs your dog experienced a stroke.
The signs of stroke in dogs appear suddenly. Symptoms usually depend on which area of the brain is affected.
Common dog stroke symptoms can include:
The following is what could have caused your dog to experience a stroke.
Dog strokes are either ischemic (blocked blood vessel) or hemorrhagic (broken blood vessel). Bacteria and parasites could contribute to blocked blood vessels, and trauma and blood clotting disorders can cause blood vessels to rupture. Strokes in dogs are more frequently ischemic than hemorrhagic.
There are several underlying health conditions which increase the risk of strokes in dogs:
Note: Some medications, such as phenylpropanolamine (Proin), which treats urine leakage, may also increase the risk of stroke in dogs.
What should be done first when your dog has a stroke?
If you believe your dog is having a stroke, immediately seek veterinary care. Strokes can be confused with other conditions, such as fainting spells and vestibular diseases that cause imbalances. However, you should always seek veterinarian care for any unusual occurrences.
It can be helpful to note the timeline of events, such as:
How are strokes in dogs diagnosed?
Your vet will need to diagnose the stroke before commencing treatment. They will perform a complete physical examination and other tests (blood and urine tests) and take a blood pressure reading. These tests will assist your veterinarian in identifying the cause of the stroke. Finally, they will utilize a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the dog's brain to confirm the stroke.
After completing all testing, your veterinarian will better understand the cause or causes of your dog's stroke.
How to treat a dog recovering from a stroke.
Treatment for dog strokes centers on addressing your dog’s symptoms, providing overall supportive care, and managing underlying health conditions. If any underlying causes of your dog’s stroke are not treated, another one could happen.
Treatment and supportive treatment will eventually restore blood flow to your dog’s brain. It often resolves neurologic symptoms such as head tilt or eye movement issues. After a stroke, some dogs return to full function, while others may have permanent changes. If your dog loses mobility, it could return within the next few months.
Examples of treatments for your dog’s symptoms may include:
Can a stroke be fatal for dogs?
A severe stroke can cause enough damage that a dog cannot recover. However, strokes are not always fatal in dogs. Many dogs do not receive a stroke diagnosis in time for immediate treatment. It is because getting a diagnosis can take a long time, or signs of the stroke can initially be missed.
How well your dog recovers from a stroke depends on several factors:
Your veterinarian can assist you in determining how well your dog may recover based on their response to treatment. In general, dogs appear to recover better than humans. Patience, supporting physical disabilities, communicating with your veterinarian, and keeping a realistic outlook will help your dog heal.
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