Pets and Stroke

By August 5, 2015 March 14th, 2018 All about Stroke, Blog, Other Information

Strokes are a devastating condition in humans, but they are even more emotional when it is your pet that has had the stroke. First, it is difficult to notice the symptoms because the pet can’t tell you what it is feeling. Second, some pets have strokes and then recover on their own. The point is that pet strokes are a problem, and they can lead to difficult times for your pet as they recover.

Of course, it would take a good deal of rehab to get a pet back to the pre-stroke shape. It is time and money intensive, but fortunately, strokes in pets are not that common. Dogs with brain tumors, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and other rare diseases and conditions are likely to cause a dog to have a stroke. It is usually not something that happens spontaneously, but it is possible. If you think your dog is having a stroke, it is important to get them help as soon as possible. The treatments are limited for strokes in dogs, but a vet will be able to watch the dog to make sure the condition does not worsen.

How to tell your pet had a stroke

There are many ways to tell if your pet had a stroke. One way to know is if the animal turns in circles or turns the wrong way when it is called. They will often walk with their head tilted to one side, much like a person that has facial droop. Some dogs will have difficulty standing because of the weakness in their legs. They may also have difficulty walking because the sense of balance is affected and the legs are likely to be weak.

Dogs who have had strokes are extremely lethargic. The will not come when called and may not even respond to food treats because they are so tired. Unfortunately, the dog will also have trouble controlling its bowel and bladder, sometimes vomiting. If your dog has these symptoms, you should get them to a vet as soon as possible. The sooner a stroke is treated, the better the outcomes for your pet. Your vet may not have a great deal of treatments for pet strokes, but they can give your pet the best shot at recovery.

What to do when your pet has a stroke

You can perform a few checks when you suspect that your dog had a stroke. One way is to look at your dog’s gums. If they are dark red, then your dog may be having a stroke. Another way is to inspect the eyelids for a similar dark red color. These signs mean that your dog is not getting enough oxygen to these tissues, and it is an indicator that something is wrong. If you notice this or any symptoms, contact your veterinarian. It is not something that will go away easily, and it could lead to the death of your pet without intervention.

Although strokes can be fatal in dogs, it is not very common with prompt medical care. Most dogs who are older tend to have strokes, but even this is rare. It is more common that a dog will have a stroke if they have a brain tumor, head injury, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and certain parasites that could cause the blood to clot. Your vet will make sure that the dog is well taken care of. Usually, they will perform a CT scan or MRI to confirm the diagnosis. Over 50 percent of dog strokes do not have a clear causation of the incident. Very little can be done for a dog who has had a stroke, but the vet can treat the causative factor, if known.

Long term solutions for a pet recovering from a stroke

Although vets cannot do much for a pet stroke, they can help reduce swelling in the brain with IV drugs. They can also give supplemental oxygen to make sure the tissue is well oxygenated. Of course, if a cause of the stroke is found, then steps will be taken to modify the careplan to address that possibility. Physical therapy is another step that may be taken later to ensure that your dog gets as much chance to save their abilities, just like humans.

If the dog is treated with medications, they also have a good chance of preventing permanent disability. The dog will need to be kept in a veterinarian nursing environment to ensure they get well. This means a stay in the hospital. Most stroke resolve in about 72 hours, and if the stroke is recognized early, then there is little chance of the stroke causing long term disability. However, you must take into account that this could be a possibility, resulting in a need for long term physical therapy to make the dog as healthy as possible.

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