Risks and Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs: How to Help a Dog Recover from Stroke?

Risks and Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs

Risks and Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs: Being responsible pet owners, we constantly seek the best for our furry companions. We shower them with affection, provide them with their cherished treats, and ensure they have a cozy place to rest. However, at times, despite our most earnest endeavors, our canine pals may encounter unforeseen health hurdles. One such concern revolves around the occurrence of strokes in dogs. Indeed, akin to humans, dogs are susceptible to experiencing strokes as well.

Until recently, it was commonly believed that strokes in dogs and cats were exceedingly rare. Nevertheless, in recent years, due to advancements in veterinary neurology and the increased accessibility of specialized tests, strokes are gaining recognition more frequently in our beloved pets.

The prospect of one’s pet enduring a stroke might evoke fear. Strokes in dogs and cats rarely cause incapacitation like they do in humans, so worry not. Pets can heal quickly with proper care. We will discuss Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs indications, risks,  and how to help your beloved pet in this detailed guide.

What is a Stroke in Dogs?

Let us first define a stroke before going into the complexities. A stroke occurs when the brain’s blood supply becomes interrupted, according to medical terminology. This interruption may manifest as either an obstruction, deemed an ischemic stroke, or a rupture, termed a hemorrhagic stroke. The cerebral region is extremely reliant on a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients carried by the circulatory system. When this vital sustenance is compromised, dire repercussions ensue, possibly culminating in mental impairment.

Although less common in dogs than in humans, strokes are not inconceivable in the canine world. They frequently manifest as sequelae of underlying health conditions or diseases that impair the cerebral vascular system.

Risk Factors for Strokes in Dogs

Risks and Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs
Risks and Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs


The age factor assumes a pivotal role in the propensity of dogs to experience strokes. While older dogs typically face an augmented risk, strokes can manifest at any stage of life.


Specific dog breeds exhibit a genetic predisposition to particular health afflictions, some of which implicate blood vessels. Breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, Boxers, and Dachshunds demonstrate a heightened vulnerability to strokes.

Heart Disease

Dogs afflicted by Heart Disease confront an escalated risk of strokes. This correlation arises from the potential for heart conditions to induce the formation of blood clots, which can traverse to the cerebral realm and precipitate a stroke.


Elevated blood pressure exerts undue strain on blood vessels, amplifying the likelihood of vessel rupture, culminating in a hemorrhagic stroke. Routine veterinary examinations serve as a means to oversee and regulate blood pressure.


Diabetes can exert a deleterious impact on a dog’s vascular system over time, rendering them more susceptible to obstructive events leading to ischemic strokes.

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Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs: How do you know?

some of the signs that indicate a dog may be having a stroke are:

  • Head tilt
  • Difficulty or reluctance in walking
  • Walking in circles
  • Loss of bowels or bladder control
  • Acute personality change
  • Disorientation or mental fogginess
  • Abnormal eye movement or positioning
  • Falling or circling to one side
  • Blindness
  • Seizures

Should you discern any of these indications in your canine companion, it is imperative that you promptly seek the services of a veterinarian. The veterinarian will undertake a comprehensive physical assessment and conduct an array of examinations to ascertain the presence or absence of a stroke in your dog. Diagnostic tests may include:

Blood tests: These assessments are performed to scrutinize for any anomalies in blood cell composition, coagulation factors, electrolyte levels, and organ functionality, among other parameters.

Urine tests: These examinations serve to detect any indicators of infection, renal maladies, diabetes, and the like.

X-rays: Radiographic investigations are employed to explore potential anomalies within the thoracic, abdominal, or spinal regions.

Ultrasound: Ultrasonographic evaluations are instrumental in appraising the integrity of the cardiac, hepatic, splenic, and renal domains, among others.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT) Scans: These advanced imaging modalities are wielded to scrutinize the existence of cerebral or spinal trauma, as well as hemorrhage.

These diagnostic procedures serve as invaluable tools for the veterinarian to not only establish the stroke’s nature, etiology, and gravity but also to institute commensurate therapeutic and palliative measures. Treatment modalities may encompass pharmaceutical interventions, surgical procedures, fluid resuscitation, and oxygen supplementation, contingent upon your dog’s clinical presentation.

The prognosis of a stroke hinges on a multitude of factors, including its location, extent, and duration, your dog’s age and general well-being, the response to therapeutic interventions, and more. While some dogs may recuperate entirely or partially from a stroke, others may contend with enduring impairment or attendant complications.

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What should I do if my dog has a stroke?

Neurologic symptoms may improve over time, but a veterinary neurologist should be seen. Untreated underlying causes can trigger more strokes. Dog stroke treatment includes metabolic disease treatment and assistance. Due to their resilience, dogs usually recover well from these traumas.

Another reason to contact a neurologist is that other serious nerve system conditions might cause dog stroke symptoms. To be honest, neurologic symptoms indicate where the problem is in the neurological system, not what it is. Only a veterinary neurologist can reliably diagnose and treat your dog.

How does a dog act after a stroke?

In the case of a stroke, your pet’s brain sends incorrect signals to its body. some of the common signs that a dog may show after a stroke are:

  • Weakness or paralysis of one or more limbs
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Head tilt or abnormal eye movement
  • Walking in circles or falling to one side
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Personality change or aggression
  • Vomiting or loss of appetite
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Blindness or seizures

How can I help a dog recover from a stroke?

Some of the things that can help a dog recover from a stroke are:

  • Giving the dog a safe place to relax and heal
  • Following the veterinarian’s instructions on medication, diet, and exercise
  • Monitoring the dog’s condition and behavior for any changes or signs of improvement
  • Offering the dog water and food regularly, but in small amounts
  • Giving the dog gentle massage and passive range-of-motion exercises to stimulate blood flow and muscle movement
  • Engaging the dog in low-intensity activities, such as hydrotherapy, strength training, or mental stimulation
  • Showing the dog love and affection, and praising them for any progress

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How long can a dog live with a stroke?

The response to this query remains elusive, for each dog and every instance of stroke is inherently unique. Nevertheless, drawing upon the insights gleaned from my search findings, I can proffer some generalized approximations and principles.

Within the ambit of the risk factors scrutinized in this investigation – encompassing age, gender, body mass, and the cerebral hemisphere afflicted (whether left or right) – only one discernible harbinger of prognosis emerged: the specific hemisphere where the stroke transpired.

Strokes affecting the left cerebral hemisphere augmented the prospects of surviving beyond the initial 30-day threshold by a substantial factor of sixteen, in contrast to strokes manifesting on the right. The average survival period following a left-hemisphere stroke extended to 602 days, in stark contrast to a mere 24 days for right-hemisphere strokes.

According to the esteemed American Kennel Club, some canines may never fully convalesce from the throes of a stroke, and, regrettably, certain instances, replete with stroke-induced complexities, may culminate in a lamentable fatality. But “with appropriate veterinary care and a dedicated owner,” Dr. Coates says, “many dogs can go on to live happily for quite a long period of time after having a stroke.”

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