October 12, 2012
Strokes in dogs

Do dogs have strokes?

“Strokes” or cerebral vascular accidents (CVA) are rare in dogs. A stroke is defined as a sudden interruption in blood supply to any part of the brain.

What causes a stroke?{{more}}

Anything that can block an artery supplying the brain can cause a stroke. Some common causes include a blood clot such as a thrombus or embolus that lodges in a cerebral blood vessel. This is also known as a thromboembolism or an embolism. Cerebral bleeding from trauma or as a result of thrombocytopenia or low blood platelet count, as in some cases of dogs with ehrlichiosis (tick fever), can also cause strokes. The cause of most strokes is unknown.

At what age are dogs most at risk for having a stroke?

Most strokes occur in dogs over three years old, but young dogs may also be victims.

What are the signs of a stroke?

Signs of a stroke are variable, depending on the region or regions of the brain affected, and the degree and duration of blood and oxygen deprivation. There may be sudden collapse or simply disorientation. A calm, relaxed dog may become vicious and vice versa. There may be loss of bladder and bowel habits, and loss of owner recognition. Any abrupt change in a dog’s behaviour is reason to have it examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

How is a stroke diagnosed?

Because many other conditions can have some of the same clinical signs, diagnosing a stroke may be a case of ruling out other possibilities.

What is the treatment?

Treatment is quite complex and there is no guarantee of complete success.

What is the prognosis?

Some dogs will recover most of their motor functions and movement, but the behavioural changes may be more difficult to correct.

For further information, contact:
Dr Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981