A stroke, which is also referred to as a cerebrovascular accident, is a medical condition wherein distressing neurological symptoms occur due to disruption of blood supply to a part of the brain. This condition can also affect dogs. Though this condition is not commonly observed in dogs, it may occur as a result of an underlying disease.
A stroke can lead to a sudden deterioration in the dog's health. Here are some of the common symptoms that are indicative of a canine stroke:
- A stroke can cause tilting of the head on one side
- The dog may turn the wrong way on being called
- Loss of balance
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Circling, house soiling and falling over very often
- Difficulty in walking
- Loss of control over bladder and bowel
- Eyes may roll back and forth
- Loss of vision
Canine strokes are categorized into two types; ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to the brain. This could be due to the formation of a blood clot or blockage that prevents blood from reaching the brain. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, tumors or medical conditions associated with the heart, kidney and liver could increase the risk of ischemic stroke. On the other hand, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when blood vessels in the brain rupture, thereby causing blood to leak.
Traumatic injury, vasculitis, lung worm, brain tumor or abnormalities in the blood vessels in the brain could increase the risk for this kind of stroke. Such a leakage of blood could adversely affect the blood supply to the brain. Physical and neurological symptoms appear when blood enriched with nutrients and oxygen doesn't reach the brain. Bulldogs and pugs are more susceptible to such a condition. It is believed that their narrow respiratory pathways increases the risk of strokes. Hence, extra precautions should be taken by people who have such kinds of dogs as their pets. Very old and very young dogs are also susceptible to strokes.
There is not much that can be done at home for the treatment of stroke in dogs. So, take your dog to a veterinarian without wasting any time. What can be done at home is proper feeding and anything that may improve your dog's quality of life. So, if you observe any of the aforementioned symptoms in your pet, it would be best to take your dog to the vet. Diagnostic tests such as the CT scan and MRI can certainly help in identifying the underlying cause.
Though the damage caused by this condition could be irreversible, pet owners can at least make the necessary changes and take steps to prevent another stroke in future. Once the underlying medical condition has been identified, the veterinarian can suggest the best treatment option. The prognosis of stroke is definitely better in dogs than in humans. The affected dog may be able to recover motor functions within a few weeks. However, the time a dog could take to recover would vary depending on the intensity of the stroke. Once a dog has had a stroke, the dog owners must be ready to accept the behavioral changes and help the dog.
Prevention is always better than cure. So, do take your dog for regular checkups. Several diseases can increase the risk of canine stroke, so make sure that you give your dog good quality dog food. Exercise is also essential, so make sure that your dog stays active. This will help to lower the risk of obesity in dogs. If the dog receives proper treatment without any delay, it can recover completely within weeks and can live a healthy life.