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Strokes in Dogs

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A stroke occurs if blood flow to part of the brain is obstructed in some way. This can damage nerve cells and cause a variety of clinical symptoms similar to those in dogs with other neurological conditions, such as brain tumors. If your dog has had a stroke, it can be a confusing and stressful situation for them and for you. That is why our specialists at Southeast Veterinary Neurology will walk you through every step and do everything they can to help your pet have the best life possible.

Symptoms of a Stroke

The clinical signs that could indicate a stroke include:

  • The acute onset of seizures
  • Walking in circles
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Poor balance
  • Blindness
  • Changes in behavior

A stroke can have a lasting effect on your pet's quality of life. If they are showing any of the symptoms listed above, contact our neurology specialists today.

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Types of Strokes and What Causes Them

There are two types of strokes; hemorrhagic (abnormal bleeding), and ischemic (reduced blood flow).

Hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke or bleeding in the brain can happen as a result of high blood pressure, problems with blood clotting, platelet problems, leaky blood vessels, certain infections, parasites, or toxicity.

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke refers to reduced blood flow to the brain due to blockage of a blood vessel. This blockage can occur as a result of increased blood clotting from hypothyroidism, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, or cardiac disease.

Diagnosing a Stroke

The symptoms of a stroke can look just like other neurological problems, like brain tumors and meningitis. We will need to do some tests to diagnose a stroke and rule out other possible causes.

  • Blood tests to check for issues with the internal organs, such as the liver and kidneys.
  • X-rays of the chest and belly.
  • MRI of the head. MRI of the head is the best way to diagnose strokes as well as other possible causes of brain problems such as brain tumors and meningitis. This lets us know the cause and helps us find the best treatment.

Following diagnosis, your veterinary neurologist might recommend additional testing to find the underlying cause of your pet’s stroke. Further blood work, an abdominal ultrasound, coagulation profiles, and blood pressure testing may be suggested.

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Helping Your Pet Recover

Options for treating a stroke can vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the stroke. Even pets that have dramatic symptoms can make an excellent recovery. An accurate diagnosis, finding the underlying cause, supportive care and physical rehabilitation are all critical to your pet's recovery.

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