October 21, 2010

What does Strokes mean to your dog’s health?

Filed under: Pet Strokes — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:55 am

When the normal flow of blood to the brain is blocked or otherwise interrupted, a stroke results.  Strokes can be caused by a burst blood vessel or blood clot with very serious consequences.  When dogs have strokes brain cells are killed and numerous effects may be noticed.  Indeed, the symptoms of stroke range from mild to very serious including paralysis and even death.  While strokes are much less common in dogs than humans, they are certainly not unheard of (though the symptoms in humans are usually more severe and permanent).

If you are concerned your dog may have had a stroke, there are a number of clues that can help you determine whether or not this is the case.  Dogs that have had strokes are often listless, lethargic or sluggish.  In addition, after a stroke dogs may lose bladder, bowel, and muscle control.  Moreover, because of the damage to brain cells caused by a stroke dogs may also lose their balance or equilibrium and you may notice your dog’s head is frequently tilted.  Finally, in more severe instances of stroke dogs will demonstrate paralysis and even impaired vision.

Clearly, dogs who have had strokes must visit the veterinarian so if you recognize any of the above symptoms you should take your dog in immediately.  In order to diagnose a stroke, your vet will conduct a thorough physical exam and record external symptoms.  Next, your veterinarian will likely conduct a neurological exam which may include an MRI or CT scan that will indicate the source of the stroke.  Unfortunately, once a stroke has occurred, there are few treatment options.  Physiotherapy is usually recommended in order to restore muscle control; but ultimately your veterinarian will want to treat the cause of the stroke to prevent further strokes.  One final point, dogs are much less likely to suffer strokes than humans and they also recover much more fully.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.