Dog Stroke Symptoms

Dog Stroke: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Dog’s rarely have strokes, so dog stroke symptoms can be difficult to spot. When a dog has a stroke, they do not behave in the same way a human stroke victim would. In fact, strokes are not nearly as serious for dogs as they can be for people. That’s not to say that a stroke is not bad news for your pup. Dog strokes can be debilitating and cause irreversible brand damage. But that is the extreme. Survival and a full or nearly full recovery is common for dogs that have had a stroke.

What is a dog stroke?
In order to understand dog stroke symptoms, treatment and prevention, it is a good idea to first learn the definition of a dog stroke. As with humans, a dog stroke happens when there is a blockage of the main artery carrying blood to the brain. The lack of blood flow to the brain is what causes the brain damage normally associated with stroke victims.

With dogs, there are 2 different types of strokes: hemorrhagic and ischemic.

Hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel bursts, causing bleeding in the brain. Some of the common causes of this type of dog stroke include brain injury or tumor, inflammation of the arteries, lung worm, trauma to the head and eating rat poison.

Ischemic stroke happens when blood flow to the brain stops suddenly, causing a lack of blood in the brain. Some conditions that can cause this type of dog stroke are diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, spinal cartilage, thyroid glad problems and tumors. Heart, kidney, liver or Cushing’s disease may also lead to ischemic stroke in dogs.

Dog stroke symptoms
There are a number of different dog stroke symptoms, including:
> balance problems, including falling over
> behavior changes that occur suddenly
> blindness or loss of some vision
> confusion
> depression
> eating out of only one side of the food bowl
> lethargy
> movement problems like turning circles and going the wrong way when called
> seizure
> tilting of the head

Of course, these behaviors do not always mean a dog is having a stroke, but they certainly can indicate problems with your pooch and should be monitored.


Dog stroke diagnosis
It is difficult to determine if the symptoms are, in fact, the result of dog stroke. The only way to be completely sure is to bring the dog to the vet for testing. The vet will first check out the dog’s physical condition, and they will also perform diagnostic tests on the dog’s urine and blood. If these tests do not provide a clear result, the vet will have to do an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (tomography scan) on the dog to find out exactly what the problem may be. These types of examinations are quite serious and may require that the dog be sedated, because it is imperative that they remain perfectly still during both an MRI or CT scan. Any movement can mar the results.

Treating and Preventing Dog Stroke
The best way to treat and prevent dog strokes is to provide your dog with a healthy lifestyle that is conducive to avoiding any of the disease mentioned above. The vet will recommend a course of treatment for each individual case, depending on the severity of the stroke. The good news is that most dog stroke victims can completely recover their motor skills within just a few weeks. In fact, many dogs who have had a stroke go on to live perfectly normal lives.