7 Signs and Symptoms That Your Dog Is Having a Stroke

A stroke is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.  This fact is no less true when the one having the stroke is a dog.  It is difficult enough to recognize the symptoms of stroke in a human however.  How much more is this true of a dog?

Before addressing that question, it would be good to look at the causes of stroke in dogs.  The high temperatures in the summer months are one major threat.  A dog can become dehydrated very quickly, especially if left in a hot car.

If you think you are preventing that by cracking the windows open, you are very wrong.  A slightly cracked window is not nearly enough to prevent overheatingTemperatures inside a car are much higher than on the outside.  So, if you have a dog who likes to ride in the car, leave it at home during hot weather!

If your dog is overweight, stroke is a greater threat to him also.  It’s easy to slip him some of your dinner leftovers, but it is not good for him, nor is it doing him a favors in the long run.

Symptoms of Stroke

1. Heavy Panting.  This may be difficult to recognize, because dogs tend to pant for numerous reasons; only one of which is to cool off.  They pant when they are nervous, when they are in pain, or simply when they want your attention.  So panting alone is not a reliable indication of stroke.

2. Sluggish Behavior.  If he seems uncharacteristically sluggish and inactive, stroke could be a possible cause.

3. Red Gums. Healthy gums are pink, not red.  Red gums indicate circulation problems and / or a lack of oxygen.

4. Dryness.  Your dog’s mouth and gums will feel dry if he is dehydrated.  Feel for this, as well as the consistency of his saliva.  If it is slimy or mucousy, he is dehydrated.

5. Vomiting or Diarrhea.  A condition like stroke is stressful and may upset his stomach.  Check also for blood in his stool or in his vomit.  He should see a vet immediately if this is the case.

6. Staggering / Unsteady on His Feet.  This is unusual and should not be ignored.  It may indicate he is dizzy or disoriented. If so, check with a vet immediately.

7. Fever.  Your dog will have a temperature higher than the normal 101 degrees Fahrenheit if he is having a stroke. Use a rectal thermometer to take his temperature, or, again, take him to see his veterinarian.

As a stroke preventative, your dog should get regular exercise to discourage weight issues.  He should have access to plenty of water, especially in the summer months — and leave him at home when you run errands.

Of course he needs to take walks also to prevent his becoming overweight.  Just wait for the cooler part of the day – early evening or even early morning before things heat up to walk him.

Usually you will see a combination of the above symptoms if stroke is an issue.  If in doubt, always check with a veterinarian.

Mark Mansfield

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