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What is Stroke?

To continue normal function, the brain requires a constant supply of blood flow. With a stroke, this constant supply is reduced or cut off, causing symptoms such as loss of balance or blindness. With the advancement in testing and diagnostics, studies are showing that strokes in our pets are occurring more than previously thought. Breeds prone to a cerebrovascular accident are brachycephalic breeds (canines with wide, flat faces), Greyhounds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Miniature Schnauzer.

Stroke in dogs is also known as a cerebrovascular accident, which means that the blood supply to the brain has suddenly been disrupted or destroyed. Stroke typically affects middle-age to geriatric dogs, but younger canines can have a cerebrovascular accident. There is no gender disposition.

Stroke Average Cost

From 26 quotes ranging from $800 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Stroke in Dogs

The onset of acute neurological signs can indicate a cerebrovascular accident. The severity of the signs will depend upon the region of the brain where the abnormality occurred, and how long the brain was deprived of the vital oxygen and blood supply.

  • Loss of balance or falling
  • Circling or weaving
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Paresis (weakness of voluntary movements)
  • Loss of vision
  • Head tilt
  • Ataxia (inability to control movements)
  • Change in behavior (for example, a calm dog becomes aggressive)
  • Inability to recognize owner
  • Seizure
  • Sudden collapse
Types

The occurrence of a stroke is broken down into two types.

  • Ischemic
    • There is lack of blood flow to the brain
    • It is the most common type of stroke to affect dogs
    • A narrowing of the artery is called thrombosis
    • A clogging of the artery by material from another location is called embolism
  • Hemorrhagic
    • There is a presence of too much blood
    • Occurs with a broken blood vessel
    • Blood between the brain and skull is a subdural hemorrhage
    • Blood leaking within the brain in an intraparenchymal hemorrhage

It should be noted that when symptoms of a cerebrovascular accident resolve within 24 hours, it is considered a TIA (transient ischemic attack).

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Causes of Stroke in Dogs

There are many predisposing conditions that your furry family member can have that may lead to a stroke. Several are listed here.

  • Thyroid gland abnormalities
  • Infection in the central nervous system
  • Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Protein-losing nephropathy
  • Lungworm
  • Head trauma
  • Heart attack
  • Hyperlipidemia (high concentration of fats or lipids in blood)
  • Intravascular cancers
  • Abnormal development of blood vessels
  • Inflammation in blood vessels or arteries
  • Ingestion of rodent poisoning
  • Increased blood viscosity (thickening of blood)
  • Kidney, liver, or heart disease
  • Clogging of an artery (such as by fat, tumor, or parasites)
  • Congenital clogging disease
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Diagnosis of Stroke in Dogs

If your dog is showing the neurological signs consistent with a cerebrovascular accident, do not delay in bringing him to the clinic. The veterinarian team will be ready to definitively diagnose the problem and do everything they can to calm your pet, and make him more comfortable. A big part of the diagnosis will be determining the underlying cause of the stroke.

The veterinarian may begin the exam with the following questions.

  • How long have you noticed a change in your dog’s behavior?
  • Did the symptoms come on in an acute fashion, or gradually become more noticeable or intense with time?
  • Has your pet been ill recently?
  • Is your dog on any medication?
  • Is is possible that your dog could have been exposed to rodent poisoning?

The best way to determine if a stroke has taken place is by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your canine companion will need to be put under general anesthetic in order to be sure of good imaging results. The MRI is the leading diagnostic tool because the veterinary specialist will be able to visualise lesions that may be present as the result of a stroke.

The veterinarian may choose to do testing before the MRI to rule out disease, or to pinpoint the cause for the stroke occurrence.

  • Also under anesthetic, a spinal tap could be done to rule out diseases that present similarly to a stroke
  • Retinal exams to check for instances like optic disc swelling, consistent with intracranial pressure
  • Endocrine testing to look for illnesses like diabetes
  • Thyroid hormone analysis
  • Complete blood count and serum chemistry panel
  • Blood pressure
  • Urinalysis to check urine creatinine protein ratio
  • Clotting studies
  • Radiograph (thoracic), CT scan or ultrasound (abdominal) to look for masses, lesions or neoplasia
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Treatment of Stroke in Dogs

In the case of a severe stroke victim, the treatment will involve hospitalization. The veterinarian will take the best approach available in the case of a cerebrovascular accident, which will include oxygen support and intravenous therapy to reduce brain swelling. Bringing your pet back to his previous state, or as close as is possible, will be the goal. Stabilising the systems of the body is very important.

Your pet (especially if he is a large breed) may need to stay in the clinic as advised by the veterinary care team, because if the dog is not yet mobile, he will need frequent turning and possible urinary catheterization. Physical therapy could be done during the hospital stay also, to help increase mobility and keep the limbs from becoming stiff.

When the veterinarian feels that your dog is ready to leave the clinic, she will advise you about the home care.

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Recovery of Stroke in Dogs

A change in diet may be in order, based on whether there are any underlying conditions. A diet sufficient in essential fatty acids and Omega 3 is thought to be beneficial to dogs who have had a stroke.

As your beloved canine companion recovers, you will need to be in communication with the veterinary care team who will want to be kept well informed on the progression of the recovery. If your dog does not seem to be getting better, or if symptoms are worsening, the veterinarian may want to pursue further testing.

If your dog is recumbent (lying down because he is unable yet to walk or move around), you will need to watch and listen for aspiration pneumonia, one of the greatest risks to dogs who have had a stroke. Signs you may see that will indicate this are coughing, difficulty swallowing, rapid breathing, or difficulty in taking a breath. If you are concerned about your pet’s medical condition, do not hesitate to take him back to the clinic.

The prognosis for stroke in dogs will depend on the severity of the cerebrovascular accident. Patience, reasonable expectations, and consistent care will be necessary. Your pet may have a change in personality, and less mobility or ability to keep up his usual level of activity, but he can still have a good quality of life with your help.

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Cost of Stroke in Dogs

Every dog is different, and correspondingly, each situation at the veterinarian's office is different. However, there are a few standard things that the veterinarian will charge. One of which is hospitalization for the day. During this time, the dog will be observed, and this costs $72 on average. When a stroke happens there is little to no blood carrying oxygen throughout the body and, in this case, the veterinarian may suggest using oxygen support. Oxygen support can cost between $120 and $130 per treatment. Your dog may also require intravenous therapy or fluids that will help nourish and hydrate and can cost $35 to $62. Urinary catheterization is usually required if the dog is unable to move on their own and can cost $45 on average. Your dog may require overnight observation and that can add an additional $37-$82. The veterinarian may also suggest physical therapy once released from the hospital. Physical therapists usually offer medication; laser therapy treatments, therapeutic exercise, massage, heat application, and range of motion stretching. On average you can purchase a package of 4-6 treatments for $160 to $240.

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Stroke Average Cost

From 26 quotes ranging from $800 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Stroke Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mini poodle

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14 0r 15?

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sezuire,Stroke Uncontrolled Urination,Loss Of Balance,Panting,Wild Kicking

Seizure stroke unconcontrolled urination, loss of balsnce,panting wild kicking

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- It sounds like your puppy could be having a seizure. She needs to go to the veterinarian immediately so they can assess her neurological status, perform bloodwork, and monitor for further seizures. If it is not a seizure they will be able to guide you in differentials for other potential causes. I hope she feels better soon.

July 24, 2020

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Chihuahua

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Stroke Like

we believe our old boy had a stroke. aftwr a few hours laying disoriented and almost incoherent, hr gets up,.ruhns as fast as he can, all through the house15 or 20 times, come ans layed down and is now looking the same as before. maybe not as bad, still wagging his tail. what does this sound like?

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello From what you are describing, it sounds like your pup is exhibiting neurologic signs. He could very well have had a stroke, or is having seizures from a brain lesion. It is recommended that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam and diagnostic testing. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

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Poppy

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Chihuahua

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Clouding
Disorientation
Head Tilt
Lifting Legs

Me and my husband were out side when our chihuahua came up to us holding her front left paw up like she had stepped on a thorn. She then switched and was holding up her right paw. We examined both paws and there was nothing stuck in either one. We set back down on the grass and she then was holding up her back left paw. And look like she was completely disoriented. She couldn't walk in a straight line, she looked drunk. She was tilting her head almost upside down. We immediately took her to the emergency vet. They did an exam and said that everything looks okay. She seemed okay. And thought it sounded like she had a seizure. We took her home, and kept a close eye on her. She was not herself for about 72 hours after. And the more educate myself it sounds like a stroke. Wondering what options i have at this point. I don't want it to happen again.

Sept. 17, 2018

Poppy's Owner

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George

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Chihuahua

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anxiety
Stroke
Extreme Fear

George is a 9 year old Chihuahua. We believe that he had a stroke or TIA a few months back. He is prone to seizures also but this time he fell over and tried to get up only to walk in circles and his eyes were bugged out more than usual (for this type of dog). He was fine writhing minutes just very tired. Since then an already anxious dog from noises has become a terrified dog afraid of even his own shadow. Hates going outside. Even terrified of the noise his dog bowls make when they hit his tag. Can this be related?

Sept. 3, 2018

George's Owner

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Trixie

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X ridgeback

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Paralysis On Hind Legs Panting

My dog was chasing a ball and fell into a crack in the ground spun over and cried out she has MRI and vets said it is a stroke and they will keep her in to give her physiotherapy. Will she regain use of her legs

Aug. 14, 2018

Trixie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm not able to answer that question without being able to examine Trixie or know more about her, unfortunately, as every situation is different. That would be a great question to ask of the veterinarians who are taking care of her, as they know her situation and are able to assess her and see what her prognosis is. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 14, 2018

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Izzy

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Crying
Passing Out
Leg Spasms

my dog Izzy (10 yrs old) was given a bath earlier today because she smelled bad, so we gave her one inside. She was acting nervous, because she has always hated water, but not acting any less than her normal self. After her bath, she went Into our kitchen and I was going to let her outside so she wouldn’t get the house all wet, but for some reason she was super reluctant, and wanted to stay in the kitchen. On her way out of the bathroom, she went to go greet my mom, but then she ended up slipping (we have hardwood floors in the kitchen). After she slipped, she was acting ok, but wanted to lie down. My dad set a towel on the floor for her, and then this is when it gets bad. She got up and then fell back down on her side, like she passed out, her head reaching back to her tail, her legs were violently kicking, and she was yelping really loudly. she then started to calm down, and was still proceeding to help. My moms a nurse and was checking her heart rate and her heart was RACING, I’d say around 140 bpm. She was breathing heavy and her heart was racing for around 10 minutes. She was so out of it, she couldn’t move at all; almost like she was paralyzed. She lied there for around an hour, and then she eventually got up. Over the past month, she has been having random episodes of passing out, but nothing this extreme. She has also been urinating in our living room without even warning my dad that she needs to go out like she has always done. She’s also urinated herself in her sleep. Our old girl means the world to me and my family, and I really would love to know what the possibilities of her “episode” could be caused by.

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Izzy

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Crying
Yelping
Falling Over
Violent Kicks

my dog Izzy (10 yrs old) was given a bath earlier today because she smelled bad, so we gave her one inside. She was acting nervous, because she has always hated water, but not acting any less than her normal self. After her bath, she went Into our kitchen and I was going to let her outside so she wouldn’t get the house all wet, but for some reason she was super reluctant, and wanted to stay in the kitchen. On her way out of the bathroom, she went to go greet my mom, but then she ended up slipping (we have hardwood floors in the kitchen). After she slipped, she was acting ok, but wanted to lie down. My dad set a towel on the floor for her, and then this is when it gets bad. She got up and then fell back down on her side, like she passed out, her head reaching back to her tail, her legs were violently kicking, and she was yelping really loudly. she then started to calm down, and was still proceeding to help. My moms a nurse and was checking her heart rate and her heart was RACING, I’d say around 140 bpm. She was breathing heavy and her heart was racing for around 10 minutes. She was so out of it, she couldn’t move at all; almost like she was paralyzed. She lied there for around an hour, and then she eventually got up. Over the past month, she has been having random episodes of passing out, but nothing this extreme. She has also been urinating in our living room without even warning my dad that she needs to go out like she has always done. She’s also urinated herself in her sleep. Our old girl means the world to me and my family, and I really would love to know what the possibilities of her “episode” could be caused by.

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Daisy Duke

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Pointer

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Clouding
Urine Spotting
Walk Unevenly

Our Daisy Duke had a stroke the other night around 7pm. I was trying to get her up to get a treat, which normally she wouldn't miss for anything!! I noticed she was a little wet once I was able to get her up. Once up she walked like she was drunk. A few minutes later her eyes started getting milky and crossed as well as going up in her head. We laid her down to rest and gave her a turmeric pill....she ended up wanting to get up and she went and drank a ton of water...she was able to eat treats slowly. She ended up soiling her bed soon after that. Around 4am Sunday we got up to take her outside and she seemed fine, her walking was improving and her eyes were getting better....by that afternoon she was totally back to normal with extra energy! Is there anything we need to give her to ensure this doesn't happen again. Or is this doors opening to something else happening. I would normally take her in but I just had a dog get hit by a truck and I need to pay that bill off....I know that sounds horrible but as a single mother I have no other choice..please no comments I feel bad enough as it is..TIA What ever advice i can get I appreciate it!!

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Myles

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lab

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14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Could Not Walk Earlier In The Day

When we got up this morning, our 14 year old Black Lab could not walk; he crawled on the floor from the bedroom to the kitchen. I tried to lift him with an assist that I purchased from Orvis; but to no avail. Now, 4 hours later, he can get up and walk (a little shakey), but can get around. Went out to go to the bathroom, and didn't collapse. We initially scheduled a home hospice to come later to put him down, but are now re-considering.

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Tootsie

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Pekingnese

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13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Head Tilt
Off Balance
Wimpering
Leg Paralysis
Unstable
Left Ear Scratching

My 13 year old Pekingnese just had an episode of whimpering, scratching her left ear and trying to rub her left side of her head into the bed. She jumped off and on the bed all while whimpering and severely tilting her head to one side. I initially thought something was wrong with her ear and tried to scratch it for her but she's being aggressive. (She normally is) I tried to rub her back but she wasn't having it. It's like her hips go out at times as well....It lasted a good 5 minutes. She has now taken herself under the bed and has calmed down... I'm worried about her.. she's an old girl...

Stroke Average Cost

From 26 quotes ranging from $800 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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