A good number of us already know what stroke looks like in humans; probably because we have seen or known someone that has had a stroke. However, the question ‘what does a dog stroke look like?’ might not be an easy one to answer.
Now, the interesting thing about stroke in dogs is that it has similarities with stroke in humans.
However, while humans can easily communicate their discomforts, leading someone to do something about it, our dogs cannot. It is entirely up to us to find out if anything is wrong.
That said, before we go into finding out what the signs are, did you know that there is more than one kind of stroke that dogs can have?
Kinds Of Stroke In Dogs
First off, stroke in dogs is basically a lack of blood in the brain which could lead to some neurological abnormalities (source).
That said, this loss of blood in the brain could be caused by either of two things which are representative of the two kinds of stroke.
So, one is the ischemic stroke. With ischemic stroke, blood vessels leading to the brain are blocked which limits or restricts the amount of blood the brain can get. This blockage can be caused by bacteria, blood clots and even tumour cells.
On the other hand, there is the haemorrhagic stroke. With this kind, the brain actually loses the blood that gets to it. This kind is not really common with dogs and is usually a result of some sort of head trauma.
Well, there is actually another kind of stroke that your dog might have and it has nothing to do with the brain. The fibrocartileginous embolism is caused by a blocked vessel in the spinal cord (source) and is also not very common with dogs.
So, What Does A Dog Stroke Look Like?
The symptoms of stroke in dogs are pretty much the same as with humans; well, except any symptom that has to do with speaking. So, nothing like slurred speech and the likes.
Some common symptoms include abnormal eye positioning or movements, uncoordinated walking, lilting to one side, general abnormal behavior and maybe even fainting.
The thing with these symptoms is that they could all happen really rapidly. So, one minute your dog could be all fine and dandy and the next they can’t move from where they are.
Before we find out the factors that could predispose a dog to having a stroke though, check out this video for more signs of a stroke in dogs.
Predispositions To Dog Stroke
There are a number of things that could predispose a dog to stroke. And for haemorrhagic stroke, the chief cause is a head trauma. So, if your dog has ever taken a hit to the head and has bled in the head as a result, chances are that they could have a stroke.
As for the ischemic kind, many things could be risk factors. Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and hypertension are some risk factors to pay attention to (source).
Now, as far as breeds go, no studies have been able to show a relationship between breed and a predisposition to stroke.
However, you’ll need to bear in mind that if your dog’s breed is predisposed to any of the risk factors, they are kinda indirectly at risk of getting a stroke.
What To Do
Seeing as the symptoms could progress really fast, it is important that you take action fast. If you notice any kind of abnormal behavior from your dog, you’ll need to report them immediately to your veterinarian.
You’ll have to push for a diagnosis with your vet if they do not immediately suggest one. The reason is some of these symptoms could be indicative of something else entirely. Getting a diagnosis helps narrow things down and allows for very specific treatments.
Now, just so that you are aware, the first thing your vet will do is to conduct an MRI or CT scan. Other tests like a urinalysis and bloodwork could be conducted just to be sure.
And once it has been ascertained that it is a stroke, the major thing your vet will try to do is get the swelling down and re-instigate blood flow to the brain.
Having satisfactorily answered the ‘what does a dog stroke look like?’ question, we must mention that the most important asset to have through all of this is calm. Do not panic and be sure that your dog will be able to get through this.