The prospect of your dog potentially suffering a stroke is a scary one, but arming yourself with information is the best way to prepare yourself for such an emergency.
In this article, we’ll cover exactly what a stroke is, the causes and symptoms of strokes in dogs, and the possible treatments for strokes in dogs.
There are two types of strokes in dogs: ischaemic and hemorrhagic strokes.
An Ischemic Stroke occurs when blood flow to a dog’s brain is obstructed. This can happen when blood clots form, a condition sometimes linked to Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Disease, or Kidney Disease.
A Hemorrhagic Stroke occurs as a result of bleeding in the brain. These bleeds can be linked to high blood pressure, toxicity, parasites, infections, as well as other causes.
Strokes are often connected to underlying health issues, such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Additionally, older dogs are more likely to experience strokes.
Frequently, strokes can occur without any apparent underlying cause. With that said, ensuring your dog maintains a healthy body weight, eats balanced meals, and gets plenty of exercise will likely help lower his chances of experiencing a stroke.
Many stroke symptoms can be indicative of a myriad of different illnesses and conditions. It is only when these common symptoms persist for more than 24 hours that they can become and can be considered signs of a stroke.
If your dog has had a stroke, he may exhibit some combination of the following symptoms:
- Loss of balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Head tilting
- Walking in circles
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Loss of consciousness
- Falling to one side
Usually, these symptoms will come on suddenly in the event of a stroke. Many of these signs may seem insignificant on their own, but when combined, they could be indicative of a stroke.
If you notice your dog experiencing any of the stroke symptoms listed above, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Next, write down the time at which you first noticed the symptoms. If you notice any additional symptoms develop over time, note those as well. This way, when taking your dog in to see the veterinarian, you’ll be able to provide a timeline of events for them to work with.
In the vet’s office, your vet will work to make an accurate diagnosis of what your dog is experiencing.
Your vet will likely take an electrocardiogram (EKG) to monitor your pup’s heart activity. Assuming that his heart is healthy, the next step will be to order imaging of your dog’s brain. A stroke cannot be confirmed without an MRI or CT scan to identify blockages or bleeds in the brain that could have caused the incident.
Depending on your dog’s state, he may receive IV fluids. Your vet may also run additional tests such as urinalysis and bloodwork. These tests will help identify any possible underlying causes of stroke, such as Kidney Disease, Hypothyroidism, or other conditions.
Since the possible causes of stroke are so varied, so are the treatment plans. Fortunately, with fast action taken and immediate care from your vet, many dogs can have the chance to recover from a stroke.
Often many of the symptoms that are associated with a stroke will go away on their own over time. For instance, your pup will regain his balance and appetite in time with proper care and attention. However, when underlying conditions are present, it is vital that they are managed carefully to prevent future incidents and other complications. In some cases, your vet may prescribe medication to help facilitate blood flow to your dog’s brain.
Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent strokes in dogs. Naturally, a good diet and exercise regimen is thought to help. Still, it offers no guarantees that your pup will not experience a stroke.
The best you can do for your furry friend is familiarize yourself with the symptoms of a stroke and take rapid action if you suspect one has occurred. And of course, spoil your pup with love and affection every day.
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