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D2007-23

Dear Daisy Dog

My veterinarian thinks my dog Bella had a stroke, but he didn’t prescribe much more than “TLC” – tender loving care. What can you tell me about strokes in dogs?

Daisy Responds

While the incidence has not been documented, veterinarians believe that strokes are uncommon in us dogs.

With the help of MRI and CT scans, vets have been able to look inside our brains and learn more about canine strokes.

A stroke, also called a brain attack, results when the flow of blood – and therefore oxygen and nutrients – is interrupted.

This occurs when a blood vessel that supplies the brain is obstructed, usually by a blood clot.

Bleeding from a burst blood vessel, another cause of stroke in humans, rarely happens in us dogs.

The clinical signs of a stroke are variable, depending on the part of the brain that was damaged. In dogs, strokes are usually confined to small areas.

Dogs with hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s disease, and those with chronic kidney failure are predisposed. Other risk factors are cancer, bacterial infection, heartworm disease, and bone fractures or other major trauma.

Most canine strokes occur acutely and do not progress. Supportive care is the best treatment, just as your veterinarian recommended.

Canine stroke patients usually recover over a period of days to weeks and, in general, fare better than human stroke patients.

My dog sisters and I send our best wishes for Bella’s speedy recovery.

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