Stroke in dogs

Although it is rarer in dogs than in humans, stroke can occur at any time in the canine population, especially in older people.

Like us humans, dogs can also be victims of stroke (stroke). The latter is a difficult test for both the animal and the owner, who often feels a certain helplessness in the face of the suffering of his dog, as well as a great concern about his state of health. Because stroke can have consequences on the body, with more or less serious sequelae . What are the causes of stroke? What are the symptoms? What should you do in case of stroke in your dog and what is the treatment?

What is a stroke?
A stroke is the sudden onset of neurological disorders related to a dysfunction in the bloodstream in the brain. It can be of 2 types:

Ischemic stroke , or cerebral infarction, that occurs when an artery is obstructed, preventing blood flow to the brain.
The haemorrhagic stroke , or cerebral hemorrhage, which corresponds to a major bleeding in the brain, especially because of the rupture of a blood vessel.
As in humans, stroke can have more or less serious sequelae in dogs, but they are not all irreversible.

What are the symptoms of stroke?
In most cases, there is no reason to predict an impending stroke. However, some symptoms may precede the outbreak of the crisis in the dog: sudden weakness, difficulty swallowing, staggering, convulsion, or coma ...

The dog can be found almost immobile, lying on the ground , possibly with traces of rejection near him. It may not react to your calls for a long time. A dazed look may also suggest a stroke. By no longer reaching the brain, the blood does not carry more oxygen , which is likely to cause serious damage if the duration of this "asphyxia" cerebral exceeds 3 minutes .

We must react as quickly as possible to save his dog.

How to react ?
When a dog has a stroke , the first thing to do is to stand by him to reassure him . You have to talk to him, caress him, so as to see if he can answer these requests.

It is then to help him gently to stand on his feet, or at least sit, to observe it in detail. The goal is to see if he can regain his balance, if he can walk normally without staggering, if his eyes are agitated, if he has convulsions or fever.

It is urgent to take him to the vet, regardless of whether a return to normal has been found in his attitude or that the signs persist.

To the vet
The purpose of visiting a veterinarian or veterinary emergency following a stroke is to have the condition of the animal assessed . If the reaction was quick , the chances of establishing the cause of the attack are great. The doctor can then prescribe a treatment against the identified problem. Otherwise, the care will consist in promoting the rehabilitation of the dog and acting, if possible, on the lesions caused by the stroke.

Several types of examinations can be envisaged, ranging from MRI to brain scan, via electrocardiography and echocardiography, depending on the suspected cause (aneurysm, hypertension, tumor ...). The veterinarian also assesses the condition of the nerve connections by performing reflex tests.

The consequences of a stroke
After a stroke, the dog goes through a rehabilitation stage to mitigate, as far as possible, the injuries and disability resulting from the crisis.

During this period, the animal must be spared and its rest favored. He needs absolute calm in order to rest and sleep properly. We must accompany him in this process allowing him to gradually regain his strength and his ability to move, balance or diet.

It must be kept in mind that a stroke can have different consequences, more or less happy. A progress can be observed, as a possible new attack . The master must remain vigilant to be able to react in time.

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