Like all dog parents, we want our own furry friends to stay as healthy as possible. That’s why we need to look out for dog stroke symptoms and act on them as soon as we can. Most people know that strokes are dreadful, but they might not know what they are or how to stop them. So, here are some tips on what to look out for and what to do if your canine has a stroke.
What is a Dog Stroke?
Just like humans, dogs can have strokes. Strokes occur when there is a problem with the blood flow toward the brain, causing brain cells to not get enough oxygen. This action can be sudden and could occur without warning. Older dogs and dogs with preexisting conditions are the most likely to experience strokes. Strokes are most common for dogs with kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, bleeding disorders, hypothyroidism, and cancer.
For both humans and dogs, there are two main types of strokes: ischemic or hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a vessel that sends blood to your dog’s brain is blocked. It usually causes damage to the brain tissue in the process. Then, a hemorrhagic stroke happens when a vessel in your dog’s brain bleeds, which could cause extra pressure and swelling.
All types of strokes are severe and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The severity of the stroke varies based on how long your dog’s brain doesn’t have proper blood flow. Extreme cases of strokes could damage the brain or even be fatal. That’s why it’s so crucial to learn the dog stroke symptoms so you can act fast if your dog experiences one.
Dog Stroke Symptoms
Not all dogs will experience the same symptoms during a stroke, but there are many unusual behaviors to look out for. The following could all be symptoms of a stroke:
- Loss of balance/inability to walk
- Exaggerated head tilt
- Walking in circles or pacing
- Unusual eye movements
- Loss of consciousness
- Unable to control bladder and bowels
- Loss of body control
- Impaired vision or blindness
In other words, if your dog is experiencing abnormal behaviors and they seem unable to control them, that could signify a stroke. In most cases, the dog will appear fine only moments before displaying one or more of these symptoms. The symptoms could only last a few minutes, but in extreme cases, they could go on for hours or even days if not properly treated.
What to Do if Your Dog has a Stroke
If you think your dog is having a stroke, seek emergency vet care right away. A vet will be able to confirm that it’s a stroke, and they’ll find a way to help your dog’s oxygen flow return to normal. On the way to the vet and at the vet, it’s important to keep your dog calm because any additional injuries could increase the severity of the stroke.
First, your vet will examine your dog’s heart and then their brain for proper diagnosis. Specifically, they’ll be on the lookout for brain blockages or bleeding. They might also need to look at blood work, hormones, and blood pressure to give a proper diagnosis.
Treatment for strokes can vary based on the type of stroke and the severity. The faster your dog is examined by a vet, the safer they’ll be. After being treated for a stroke, your dog may need lots of time to recover. Some dogs will recover in a few weeks, but some will have permanent damage from the stroke that can’t be cured. It’s a scary thought, which is why being aware of symptoms and making yourself familiar with the closest emergency vet are crucial for any dog parent.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent a dog stroke. However, they are most commonly related to other underlying health problems. So, the best way to prevent them is to take your dog in for regular vet checkups. That way, you’ll know if your dog has any major health concerns before a stroke occurs. Staying on top of your dog’s health requirements is the best way to prevent all health concerns too, not just strokes.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Dog stroke symptoms are severe and should be handled immediately. Some of these symptoms could lead to long-term effects or even death. So, if your dog is experiencing any unusual behaviors that cannot be controlled, rush them to the emergency vet for an immediate diagnosis. The more cautious you are about your dog’s health, the safer they’ll be in the long run.