We may not know it but our beloved dog companions may already be suffering from a stroke. It has been found out that more and more canines have fallen victim to this and have suffered extensively due to the lack of knowledge to detect a stroke in its early display. Good thing, though, there has been a huge step forward in veterinary medicine in recent years and substantial tests are now available to diagnose the symptoms of stroke in dogs.
To begin this blog, let us first define what a “stroke” is. It has been said that stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is called a “cerebrovascular accident” and happens when there is an insufficient supply of blood in the brain. Neurological symptoms like seizures and coma can likely happen if immediate action is not taken.
2 kinds of stroke can plague a dog: Ischemic Stroke and Hemorrhagic Stroke. An Ischemic Stroke transpires when blood in the brain is obstructed or reduced abnormally. This leads to a disrupted brain function due to the lack of oxygen flowing through the brain cells. Ischemic stroke may happen as a result of an underlying sickness such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and the like.
The Hemorrhagic stroke happens when bleeding in the brain occurs due to a ruptured vein. It happens most commonly to dogs with blood clotting-related diseases.
- Common Causes of Stroke
While a stroke can happen to all dog breeds, there are just some who are more prone to this than the others. Take for example the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Greyhound. Their lineage carries blood-related issues that may trigger a stroke.
As also mentioned in the earlier part of this blog, many diseases may trigger a stroke in dogs. Cushing’s Disease, hyperlipidemia, and hypothyroidism are among them.
- Signs and Symptoms
Compared to strokes suffered by humans, dogs manifest different signs and symptoms. It can also be confused with other sicknesses such as seizures, vertigo, and ear infections. Common tell-tale symptoms are loss of balance, uncontrollable bowel or bladder activity, walking in circles, Nystagmus or uncontrollable eye movement, collapse, paralysis, seizures, coma, among others.
There is a similar condition in dogs called Vestibular Disease and it has almost the same signs as stroke. The best way to identify and diagnose correctly is to immediately consult a veterinarian at the earliest sign.
At the onset of your consultation with your veterinarian, they will be inquiring about the symptoms the dog has manifested. They will conduct tests to provide a definite diagnosis if, indeed, the dog suffered a stroke. The common tests that your canine companion will undergo are those that will project the current state of the brain. These are MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Test and CT (Computed Tomography) Scan. A Spinal Tap may also be conducted.
It depends on your veterinarian if your dog will be subject to an anesthetic. The severity of the pet’s condition will always be considered.
- Recovery and Medication
Once it has been identified that the dog has suffered a stroke, treatment can be done starting from regulating the flow of oxygen in the brain. Veterinarians will also focus on appeasing the symptoms. They may prescribe sedatives to counter disorientation and anticonvulsants to control seizures.
After a few weeks, your dog will return to its normal state slowly. However, this will not happen if the underlying cause is not treated.
In rare cases, surgery and therapy may also be suggested.
The worst part of strokes in dogs is that there is no way to predict if it will happen and when will it happen. As an owner, being highly observant for any manifestations matter. If your dog has already suffered a stroke, the good news, according to experts is that there is a 75% chance that they will return to normal in a week or so. Early detection is necessary.