Symptoms of Strokes in Dogs
The effects of a stroke are caused by lack of sufficient oxygen delivery to the brain. Two types of strokes occur in dogs: ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes. Ischemic strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is compromised, and the brain becomes deprived of oxygen, glucose and other essential nutrients. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts, causing abnormal intracranial bleeding. Regardless of the underlying cause, the symptoms of stroke depend upon the location and extent of bleeding from or blockage of cerebral arteries. While strokes in dogs are not common, they do happen. It is important for owners to recognize the signs of stroke, so that affected dogs can be treated promptly.
The symptoms of stroke almost always come on suddenly. Owners may notice one or more of the following signs when their dog is having a stroke:
- Head tilt
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of balance
- Lack of coordination (ataxia)
- Uncontrollable circling
- Paralysis (usually on one side of the body)
- Vision impairment or loss (sudden onset)
- Loss of bowel control
- Inappropriate urination
- Other abrupt behavioral changes
Dogs at Increased Risk
There is no age, sex or breed predisposition associated with strokes in domestic dogs.