Dog Stroke Symptoms Examined

Dog stroke symptoms can occur when your dog has one of two types of strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to your dog's brain. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when your dog experiences bleeding the brain that decreases blood flow to other parts of the brain. Dog stroke symptoms vary according to the type and location of the stroke and the size of the affected area.

Causes of Stroke in Dogs

Canine stroke can occur for a number of different reasons. Heart and liver disease can contribute to stroke in dogs, as can Cushing's disease, hypertension, thyroid disorders and diabetes. Brain tumors, lungworms, head injury and accidental poisoning can all be responsible for hemorrhagic strokes in dogs.

Canine Stroke Symptoms

If your dog has a stroke, he could experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Blindness
  • Balance problems
  • Loss of control over bowels and bladder
  • Behavioral changes
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Head tilt
  • Walking in circles
  • Eating out of just one side of the bowl
  • Turning the wrong way when called

If your dog has suffered a particularly severe stroke, he may experience arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and may collapse.

Diagnosing Dog Stroke

Your vet will perform a thorough physical exam in order to diagnose canine stroke, and he'll also perform a number of tests to determine the extent of the damage to your dog's brain. Your vet will need a CT or MRI scan in order to properly examine your dog's brain.

Dog Stroke Treatment

If your vet can determine the cause of your dog's stroke, he'll prescribe medication to treat it. Treating the root cause of the stroke can prevent future strokes from damaging your dog's brain further. Your vet may prescribe corticosteroid drugs to treat brain swelling or prevent future swelling of the brain. Anticonvulsant drugs may be used if your dog's stroke was the result of a seizure disorder, or if your vet has reason to believe that the damage done by your dog's stroke may cause future seizures.

Canine Stroke Prognosis

The longer your dog survives after his stroke, the better his prospects for continued survival and recovery, so it's very important to seek emergency vet care immediately if you think your dog is having a stroke or has had a stroke. If your dog manages to survive for a week following his stroke, he probably has strong chances of continued survival and even recovery.

Once the cause of the stroke is treated, most dogs recover quickly from stroke symptoms. The stroke recovery process usually takes a few weeks. While your dog is recovering from canine stroke, he may need help getting around and eating and drinking. You'll need to restrict his movement so that he can get enough rest, and to keep him from accidentally injuring himself as he regains motor control.

While dogs usually make a good recovery from stroke, you should be prepared to accept that some of your dog's brain damage may be irreversible, and some behavioral changes may become permanent.