Dog Stroke

Dealing With A Stroke In Dogs

A stroke in dogs is very similar to a stroke in humans and is considered a medical emergency because the brain is being deprived of blood.  These are very serious in dogs because they can't actually tell you what's wrong so often, their illness goes untreated until it is too late.  If you happen to have an older canine or a breed that is at high risk, it is vitally important that you are familiar with and able to identify stroke symptoms.

Simply put, a stroke in dogs occurs when some type of malfunction takes place and disrupts the flow of blood traveling to the brain.  When this happens, the neural pathways and nerves that are in the brain stop working.  This causes severe problems with vision, coordination and general behavior.  If a stroke is left untreated, the dog will die.

Types Of Strokes

There are two different types of strokes that occur in canines.  The first one is causes by an artery that has become blocked and is not allowing blood to reach the brain.  The second type of stroke in dogs happens when the brain's blood vessels begin to hemorrhage.  This causes blood to pool in and around the brain.  Both are considered extremely serious and will almost always immediately affect your dog's behavior.

Time Frame

Symptoms associated with a stroke in dogs may not be overly noticeable at first.  He may turn and walk the wrong way when you call his name, tilt his head like he is confused or eat only from one side of his food bowl or he may portray more obvious symptoms such as falling over.  Of course, some of these traits are completely normal for some dogs to do.  What you are really looking for is an action out of the ordinary.

Symptoms of a stroke in dogs always become more severe as his condition worsens.  He may lose control of his bladder and bowels, be extremely lethargic and or even go blind.  As soon as you have any kind of suspicion that your dog could be suffering from a stroke, you need to seek medical attention immediately.  If your dog receives effective and prompt treatment, he can have a full recovery.


To prevent your dog from suffering from a stroke, he needs to go to the veterinarian every year for a checkup, just like a human should.  Always exercise extreme caution in the warmer months.  Your dog should not be forced to play, walk or run in the hot summer sun, especially if he is older.  Take your walks either early or late in the day when the temperatures are not so brutal so there is less chance of your dog having heatstroke.  Additionally, your dog should never be left outside for long periods of time and always make sure that he has shade and fresh water at all times.

If your dog has suffered from a stroke already, he will need to follow a strict diet to prevent another one from occurring.  Your veterinarian may also prescribe herbs or supplements to promote heart health.


Special Considerations

Very young or old dogs are most likely to suffer from a stroke so it is important to always take special precautions to ensure their health, especially in extreme temperatures.  Never leave your dog in a hot or cold car, not even for a few minutes.  Also, keep in mind that dogs with either flat faces or exceptionally thick coats are prone to strokes.  Heavier coats keep your dog's body temperature much higher and dogs with a flat face such as bulldogs or pugs have very narrow respiratory pathways.