There are two types of strokes your dog might have. Both types involve a disruption in the flow of blood to the brain. An ischemic stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted due to a blocked artery. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted due to actual bleeding in the brain, caused by a burst blood vessel.
Canine Stroke Symptoms
Dog stroke symptoms usually appear suddenly and are very different than stroke symptoms in humans. In humans, a drooping face and paralysis on one side of the body is common. This is not so with dogs. Symptoms vary based on the location of the stroke.
Canine stroke symptoms often include:
- tilting the head to the side
- walking in a circle
- turning the wrong way when called
- eating out of only one side of the food bowl
- loss of balance
- lethargy/acting tired
- loss of bladder and bowel control
- sudden behavioral changes
Severe strokes have additional symptoms such as:
- heart arrhythmia
If you notice symptoms of stroke in your dog, you should take him or her to the vet right away.
Diagnosis and Causes of Canine Strokes
To diagnose dog stroke symptoms, your veterinarian will do a complete physical exam and then run some tests. A CT (computed tomography) scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) will allow the vet to view your dog's brain and will be necessary in order to diagnose the stroke - it won't show up on an x-ray.
Once it is determined that your dog has indeed suffered a stroke, your vet will begin to try to determine the cause of the stroke.
Causes of Canine Stroke
Your vet will do some tests, which may include blood tests, x-rays, ultra-sound tests, and a spinal tap, to look for the cause of the stroke. Head trauma can also cause a stroke.
In about 50% of all cases, however, the cause of the stroke is not able to be determined.
Treating Canine Stroke Symptoms
Treatment for dog stroke symptoms focuses on treating the cause of the stroke, if the cause can be determined. This prevents further health problems and prevents future strokes. Corticosteriods are usually prescribed for brain swelling prevention and medications to prevent seizures (anticonvulsants).
The prognosis for your dog is based on the length of survival after the stroke. Dogs that survive for several days can have a good prognosis and recovery. Beyond the first days, survival depends on your veterinarian finding and treating the cause of the stroke.
Fortunately, studies show that dogs can quickly recover from strokes. Recovery may take only a few weeks. The extent of the recovery depends, however, on the degree of the damage to the brain. Some problems may be permanent, including changes in behavior.
If your dog has a stroke you might want to supplement your dog's diet with herbal supplements designed to support brain and nervous system function. Ingredients to look for include Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) which helps the nervous system, Scuttelaria laterifolia (Skullcap), Hyoscyamus (30C), Belladonna (30C) and Cuprum mettalicum (30C). PetAlive EaseSure is a natural canine remedy made for this purpose.
How to Treat Canine Stroke