What are the Signs of a Stroke in Dogs
Health issues are also common in dogs and stroke can be one of the many. It is not that common but can be a serious condition to our dogs.
First-aid tips are necessary to any dog owner as a stroke can occur without warning.
In light of this let’s find out what is a stroke, its causes, and its signs.
What is a Stroke?
A dog can suffer a stroke when the brain doesn’t get enough blood due to oxygen depletion. In addition, this inhibits nutrients and oxygen from getting to the brain tissues.
Moreover, a stroke can damage the brain hence early action is necessary to reduce the chances of brain damage and disability.
Just like in humans stroke can be threatening hence it is advisable you seek treatment for your dog immediately.
Unquestionably, disability or brain damage can occur to your pet if the stroke goes untreated for longer.
Notably, stroke attacks the brain when the supply of blood is disrupted and cells are deprived of oxygen.
A dog can be seriously affected if it stays unconscious for long after experiencing a stroke. Besides, deprivation of oxygen can cause more harm and be fatal to your dog.
Type of Strokes
1. Hemorrhagic Stroke
This stroke happens when blood from an artery begins bleeding into the brain after a blood vessel bursts. Additionally, this stroke can damage brain cells due to the pressure endagering your dogs life.
Causes of Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Head injury
- Bulging of a blood vessel
Moreover, loss of balance, confusion, seizures, paralysis and stiffness are common signs associated with this stroke.
2. Spinal Stroke
Just as the name suggests, a spinal stroke is a stroke caused when there is a disruption of blood flow to the spinal cord.
The spinal cord is an important part of the body due to movement and relies on messages to the brain through nerve impulses.
Messages can be blocked if there is a disruption of blood supply when the tissue becomes damaged. In dogs just like humans the spine and brain work together and in case of spinal stroke occurrence it can cause a lot of damage.
For instance, messages from the brain are relied to the nerve impulses along the spinal cord which in turn control the activities of the body such as the movement of any body part.
The dog may not be able to coordinate its movement if one of the spinal cord nerves gets damaged or injured hence no message will be relied to the brain.
Causes of Spinal Stroke
- Blood clots
- Clogs of arteries.
Signs of a Stroke
Without a doubt, it might be hard to see the sign of stroke before it happens to your dog as it comes without warning.
Sometimes one may ignore and leave the stroke untreated resulting in permanent damage in the future.
We have common signs of stroke namely:
Is it old dog syndrome, idiopathic vestibular disease that causes head tilting or your dog is suffering from a stroke? As the symptoms are the same, it might be difficult to differentiate when your dog head is tilting, walking in circles, and lack coordination before doing any tests to determine if it is a stroke or old dog syndrome? For stroke, your dog can be given medication, be hospitalized, or sent home to recover depending on the results of the tests conducted.
Loss of Balance
When your dog lacks coordination you will notice a loss of balance. He may have become unconscious and when waking up isn’t able to stand straight. The dog may lean on one side when walking. Seek advice from your vet if you notice these symptoms.
When the blood supply is cut off, due to a lack of oxygen going to the brain the dog may collapse. If the dog stays unconscious for long he may suffer long-term effects like paralysis or death due to lack of oxygen. Ensure oxygen supply is resumed quickly to your dog.
Lack of Direction when Called
Moreover, your dog may move in a different direction or appear to be confused. Lack of coordination may lead to your dog walking like he is drunk or doesn’t know where he is going.
Abnormal Eye Movement/Impaired Vision
The dog movement may move from one side to the other. Check out for abnormalities in eye movements, you might notice the dog is focused on two different spots while looking. Consult your vet immediately you notice this.
Paralysis on Limbs
Dogs affected by fibrocartilaginous embolism or FCE can suffer from paralysis of limbs. It happens when a piece of cartilage from the disk blocks blood flow to the spinal cord, causing a stroke.
Following this, when the spinal cord does not have a constant blood supply, it cannot function, causing the symptoms of weakness or inability to use the limbs.
It is not painful but can affect one limb or both on the same side. If you notice this take the dog to the vet for test and examination and proper diagnosis and treatment.
Dark Red Mucous Membranes
From the inner eyelids check for dark red colour as that indicates lack of oxygen. Although these signs are not just for a stroke some may occur for other serious health conditions. Subsequently, take your dog to the vet for further examination to rule out any other health issues.
Causes of a Stroke
To start with, the lack of oxygen in the brain is the major factor. Also, dogs with other health issues like diabetes, rock mountain spotted fever, kidney diseases have a greater chance of suffering a stroke.
Importantly, there is no way of knowing if your dog will suffer a stroke and hence healthy lifestyle is the way to go. Ensure to give healthy food, enough exercise, and regular vet checkup so that in case of any detection it can be treated early.
In case your dog suffers a stroke seek medical attention immediately. Some dog breeds are active and aggressive hence train your dog to keep calm and respond to commands like go, sit, stay, come). Not only will this help to tame him but also to keep him safe from injuries. Head injury can lead to stroke if the dog becomes unconscious.
Alongside this, have a first aid manual and kits to administer first aid before you get to the vet. This first response can determine if he will live or die. Quick treatment is essential to restore immediate blood flow.
Lastly, for proper diagnosis and medication, the vet needs to carry out further tests. The dog may recover fully or partially depending on the severity of the effect. We would recommend pet insurance to cover the various tests.