Has my dog had a stroke?

Just like in humans, a stroke can occur in pets when there’s a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. Tumours, parasites and bacteria or bleeds on the brain can cause a stroke.

What are the symptoms of strokes in dogs?

The signs are similar to those in us, minus the slurred speech. Symptoms tend to come on very quickly.

  • Inability to walk or walking with an uncoordinated gait
  • Head tilt
  • Abnormal eye movements – either side to side or rotating
  • Abnormal eye positioning
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Abnormal behaviours
  • Falling to one side
  • Blindness

Underlying diseases that can cause strokes in dogs

  • Kidney disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cancer

In some cases, prolonged high doses of steroid medication can cause a dog to have a stroke.

How are strokes in dogs treated?

Your vet will carry out tests to check a stroke has occurred, possibly including an MRI or CT scan, chest x-rays and an ECG exam. Depending on the cause of the stroke, they may prescribe medication. It’s a good idea to discuss costs with your vet before you start any treatments.

The symptoms of a stroke will usually disappear in time. Maintaining a nutritional diet, gentle exercise and managing trips to the toilet will help your dog to heal.

How do I stop my dog having another stroke?

Unfortunately, strokes can’t be prevented. If the cause is due to an underlying medical condition, then regular check-ups with your vet are very important.

Thinking of adopting a dog that’s had a stroke?

Make sure you review their clinical history and ask for more details on how the stroke was treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any dog who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential ongoing costs with your vet.

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