Health & Care > Pet care, safety and insurance > Babysitting a Dog That Has Had a Stroke

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11/27/2010 15:55:22 PM by Dr.Greg   Send Message to Dr.Greg  3620  views, category: Pet care, safety and insurance view all blogs

    

Sophie is a German shorthair pointer that is one of the smartest dogs I have known. She is a fantastic bird dog and knows enough to cover herself with her own blanket when she gets a bit chilly. She developed a tumor of the spleen and needed surgery to remove it. A colleague close to Sophie’s home performed the surgery. Then every vet’s nightmare occurred. She did not recover from the anesthetic well and has suffered a stroke or insult to the brain that has left her unable to keep her balance or use her limbs well.

She is my brother-in-law’s dog so to help out, I said I would keep her for a few days to monitor her and to help decide if she was going to recover or stay incapacitated. She is on a big dog bed in front of our pellet stove during the day and by the side of my bed at night. She blinks and responds to touch but can’t control her movements. I want to give her time to heal but don’t want her to needlessly suffer if my efforts are in vain. She appears to be having petit-mal seizures and I gave her valium intravenously to see if that would help relax her. After her seizures she howls and paddles and appears very uncomfortable so the valium was a welcome relief to Sophie. Besides my dogs Maisy started shaking and Tucker looked scared and nervous. They could not understand why Sophie is laying on the floor howling. The valium worked for everybody.


Strokes are common in older dogs and are often diagnosed as “old dog vestibular syndrome”. An older dog will suddenly have a head tilt, balance problems, and rapid eye movement. They will often fall, tilt their head to the side with one ear down, or list to one side and stagger around. MRI’s have shown that these episodes may be mild strokes. If an affected dog can keep their balance, and have mild signs, they can recover in a few months. They may have a life-long head tilt, but will operate at full capacity otherwise.


However a stroke during surgery or clot to the brain carries a much poorer prognosis. All I can do is feed her via stomach tube, keep her hydrated via subcutaneous fluids, and keep her comfy with padding and a bit of sedation. Say your prayers for Sophie, and her recovery. She needs all the help she can get.

About the author: I love animals and their bond with us. My new book Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog's Health is out and available on my website (http://dogdishdiet.com ). I have been an animal lover my whole life. As a teenager, I worked at a pet sh... more >>

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