Human beings can relate to strokes. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain gets disrupted and shuts off the much needed oxygen supply to the tissue. The result can be deadly if not treated properly. Because of its rarity and inclination to happen mostly to humans, many a pet owner have wondered whether the same can happen to their animals.
Just like humans, it is very possible for dogs to have a stroke. There are basically two types of stroke; one where a blood clot travels to the brain and blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood, and another where vessels in the brain rupture and cause hemorrhaging. Both instances can be fatal if not addressed in time.
What are the symptoms?
Itâ€™s essential that every dog owner know what symptoms to look out for when it comes to strokes. Symptoms will appear almost immediately, one of which is disorientation. This may come in many forms, some as subtle as turning the wrong direction when called, to eating out of only one side of their bowl. In more extreme cases, your dog may collapse and become unresponsive.
If the stroke isnâ€™t as apparent or is left untreated because the signs are too subtle to notice at first, they may become lethargic and/or lose bowel control. If your well-trained pup suddenly starts urinating in the house or while theyâ€™re walking around, it probably isnâ€™t their fault, so donâ€™t make assumptions that theyâ€™ve suddenly decided indoors is their new potty. This may be as a result of the brain not getting enough oxygen to ensure proper motor skills and dexterity. They may feel dizzy and tired all the time and lose the ability to control their body movements.
In all cases where you suspect stroke, an immediate visit to the vet is strongly recommended. [tweet this].
For the most part, medications can be used to thin the blood to help get rid of the clot, if this is the cause. Because of the brainâ€™s intricacy, surgery is not always the best option. Consulting with your veterinarian will narrow down your options and help you choose what is going to be the best solution for your dogâ€™s recovery.
While strokes can prove fatal, if caught early enough and treated properly, it is possible for the dog to make a full recovery and enjoy many more years with you. Donâ€™t assume that just because theyâ€™ve suffered a stroke that they arenâ€™t going to be okay. Keep your thoughts positive and focus on helping your pup through it.
Donâ€™t confuse one for the other
Strokes are indeed very dangerous, but there exists one condition that seems to result in almost identical symptoms. Vestibular disease can and is often mistaken for a stroke. It occurs when the brain doesnâ€™t cooperate with the inner ear and basically results in a â€œsuper-drunkâ€ state for your dog (minus the dangerous alcohol).
Unfortunately (or fortunately for the dog), treatment for this particular issue is to keep them comfortable, especially during an episode where falling down can prove dangerous. Such episodes can last for long periods, in which case it may be necessary to hand feed them (they might be picky because of the disorientation), but itâ€™s crucial that you keep them nourished.
What to consider
One thing to consider is what types of dogs tend to be prone to having strokes.Â [tweet this].
Both young puppies and old dogs are naturally inclined to stroke. Injuries, such as broken bones, can also result in blood clots that can travel through the body to the brain, so be cautious with a dog recovering from a broken limb. When it comes to your dogâ€™s characteristics, keep in mind that dogs with thick coats and short snouts (pugs and bull dogs) are at a higher risk due to their smaller respiratory system.
In all cases, be sure that you take care of your dog properly to prevent the chances of stroke occurring. Extreme temperatures, mainly hot weather, can result in over exertion. When your dog is having fun, they probably arenâ€™t going to stop even after they begin to overheat. Proper diet and plenty of exercise are the best steps to prevention and will help keep your dogâ€™s circulatory system functioning properly.
Be sure to keep an eye out for any change in your dogâ€™s behavior. They adore habit and seldom change (unless some visitors arrive). So if you see your pup acting a little strange, take note and act on it to make sure theyâ€™re okay. At the end of the day, they trust you to take care of them and make sure they stay happy and healthy.
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