It’s not a scientific secret that dogs (and cats) suffer from strokes less frequently than humans. Sadly, it’s also not a secret that strokes in pets are almost always much more serious than in humans, and they always require urgent veterinary attention.

A stroke happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen, which can happen for a number of reasons. A blood vessel can narrow to the point where blood can no longer flow, or a blood clot can partially or completely obstruct the vessel. There are two types of stroke in dogs: ischemic or hemorrhagic. The former is sudden oxygen deprivation to the brain, and the latter is caused by a blood vessel that bursts and forces pressure on the brain.


  1. Symptoms of a Stroke in Dogs
  2. What Are the Causes of Strokes in Dogs
  3. Can Dogs Recover from a Stroke
  4. Treatment of Strokes in Dogs
  5. Stroke vs. Seizure in Dogs: What’s the Difference
  6. FAQs
  7. Final Thoughts

Symptoms of a Stroke in Dogs

It’s important to learn the symptoms of strokes in dogs because they do not look the same as human strokes. When we experience a stroke, one side of our face might drop or droop, and there is often a loss of movement in one arm – the same side as the drooping face. Speech issues and confusion are also common human stroke symptoms.

A dog stroke will manifest in very different ways. Rather than a drooping face, dogs (and cats) display a turn or tilt of the head instead. They probably experience sight issues but are unable to communicate with their pet parents, and mobility or balance issues are common. Research also suggests that limping, dragging limbs or paws, and vocal noises are common signs.

Unfortunately, these symptoms of a stroke in dogs are not specific to this medical emergency. Several other neurological issues also display these exact same symptoms.

Here is a full list of symptoms that might accompany a stroke in a dog:

  • Tilted or turned head;
  • Odd movements;
  • Falling over;
  • Balance issues;
  • Seeming ‘dumb’ (or dumber than usual);
  • Eyes change, particularly with movement;
  • Leaning over to one side;
  • Unusual behavior, such as snapping when usually calm;
  • Bumping into things (due to sight issues);
  • Dizziness;
  • Seizures;
  • Fainting (medically known as syncope);
  • Unconsciousness;
  • Coma.

These symptoms are signs of a serious medical emergency, whether it’s a stroke or another issue. You should not ignore them. Veterinary attention is necessary urgently – a few minutes could literally mean the difference between life and death for your pet. (I’m sorry to be so blunt about it, but honesty is the best policy, right?)

You can keep an eye on your pets even when you’re not at home with Petcube’s range of cameras and pet tech. Cam 360 gives you a 360-degree view of your home along with two-way audio, and there’s the GPS Tracker to always know where they are. There’s a little something for every pet and pet parent, providing peace of mind at any time.

What Are the Causes of Strokes in Dogs

Blood clots and clotting disorders are an obvious cause of strokes in dogs. When clots grow larger, they can get stuck in the vessels and veins, blocking the flow of blood, which eventually leads to oxygen deprivation. Blood carries oxygen to every part of your dog’s body, so when the flow is blocked, oxygen can’t get to where it needs to go. Tumors, both benign and cancerous, also have the potential to block blood routes, as do parasites, bacteria, and more.

Narrowing veins and blood vessels also cause issues with blood flow. Several diseases and medical conditions have vein-narrowing as a symptom, according to veterinary research. These include:

If your pet has one or more of these conditions, a little extra pet camera monitoring is vital.

Experts agree on the fact that ALL dog breeds are susceptible to both strokes and the underlying conditions that cause them, but some Spaniel breeds tend to experience the underlying conditions at a higher rate.

Can Dogs Recover from a Stroke

Yes, dogs can recover from a stroke, but only if your pet receives prompt medical attention and the underlying cause is also diagnosed and treated.

Recovery from a dog stroke is also dependent on how much damage has been done to the brain. Oxygen deprivation for ten minutes is (obviously) going to damage the brain a lot more than oxygen deprivation for 30 seconds. A vet can give you a general prognosis once your pet has been diagnosed and treated.

Treatment of Strokes in Dogs

The treatment of your dog’s stroke will heavily depend on the type, cause, and severity, all of which will be determined by your vet. For example, strokes caused by hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, will be treated with medication to reduce blood pressure. On the other hand, strokes caused by blood clots will likely require medication that thins the blood, such as warfarin.

Once your dog’s oxygen levels have been monitored, a vet might recommend oxygen therapy to bring levels back to normal. Physical therapy is sometimes necessary for your pet to regain some or all of their mobility.

There isn’t one set treatment for strokes, and there isn’t a single treatment that can reverse or repair the damage that has been done to the brain. In some cases, strokes can lead to permanent, irreversible brain damage that results in your pet having no quality of life, including no mobility, no bowel or urine control, a loss of one or more senses, and more. In such cases, a vet will likely suggest euthanasia.

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Stroke vs. Seizure in Dogs: What’s the Difference

A stroke and a seizure are both neurological events but differ in their causes, symptoms, and effects on the brain. Your dog will experience a stroke when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, leading to damage or death of brain cells.

On the other hand, a seizure is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This abnormal activity can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including convulsions, loss of consciousness, staring spells, repetitive movements, sensory disturbances, and emotional or cognitive changes.


How do you know if your dog has had a stroke?

There is no way for you, the pet parent, to determine whether or not your pet has had a stroke. The only people or persons who can do that are licensed veterinarians who examine and properly diagnose your pet. They might display ALL of the symptoms listed above, but they could attribute them entirely to another medical condition.

Should I put my dog down after a stroke?

If your bet suggests euthanasia for your dog after a stroke, it is a good idea to consider it. They will only recommend that course of action if your poor pup has no way of recovering to full health or has a poor quality of life. I know this will break your heart, but the alternative is allowing your dog to live in great pain or without even realizing what is happening around them.

Can a dog die from a stroke?

Yes, a dog can die from a stroke. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, parts of the brain essentially die. The longer the deprivation goes on, the more the brain becomes damaged until, eventually, so much of the brain becomes damaged that it is incompatible with life.

Can you prevent strokes in dogs?

You can’t really prevent strokes in dogs, but you can prevent the underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, that often cause strokes. Regular exercise, routine vet checkups, a healthy diet, and a happy lifestyle will go a long way toward keeping your four-legged friends in tip-top condition. Sadly, sometimes, health issues are completely out of our hands, so your pup can still suffer from a stroke even if they are the healthiest dog in the world.

Final Thoughts

It’s never nice to think about your pets becoming poorly, which is why it’s so important to keep up to date with regular vet checks, vaccinations, and necessary treatments, along with regular exercise, enrichment, and a good diet for your pups.

Just remember: If something looks weird or different, seek veterinary advice. Petcube’s team of vets is available around the clock for that very reason.

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