A stroke in dogs and what it can mean

A stroke in dogs can be a serious issue, just as it is in humans, so knowing the signs and being able to act quickly can make a difference.

When there is a disturbance in the brain’s blood supply an acute cerebrovascular attack or stroke occurs. What results is impairment to part of the brain. This condition is an emergent one requiring immediate care to prevent as much damage as possible.

A stroke in dogs can be one of two types. Ischemic strokes occur when a blockage in an artery prevents a free flow of blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when bleeding in the brain cause a disruption of blood flow. The risk for both types increase with age.

The signs and symptoms of a stroke in dogs can vary based on the type of stroke, the area of the brain affected and the dog itself. You may notice your pet tilting its head to one side or turning the wrong way when you call. He may even begin to eat out of the wrong side of the food bowl. Other signs and symptoms include a loss of balance, behavioural changes and a loss of control bowels and bladder. If your dog begins to exhibit these symptoms, you should get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will perform a physical exam and possibly a CT scan or an MRI to see what is happening in the brain.

Treatment of strokes in dogs depends on its cause. High blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes may be to blame. Or the cause may be kidney disease, a brain tumour or abnormal blood vessels. The diagnostic tests will help the vet determine cause and course of treatment. There are cases in which the cause cannot be determined. Treatment will focus on the prevention of further damage. There is no truly effective way to repair damage done once an old dog has had a stroke. The good news is that dogs recover much better from this illness than humans do. The extent of recovery is heavily dependent on the extent of initial damage to the brain.

Many owners look to home remedies for strokes in dogs. They can be helpful but a veterinarian should always be consulted prior to their use. A stroke is not necessarily a death sentence for an old dog. In many cases they can still have a good quality of life and provide more years of faithful companionship to their owners after suffering a stroke.

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