My friend thinks her dog has had a stroke. Is this possible? Do dogs have strokes and what is the end result?

James Farrell advises…

Dogs do not usually suffer from strokes in the same way that humans do, since, unlike humans, they have a circular blood supply to the brain, meaning there are fewer ‘dead ends’ to get blocked. What dogs do suffer from is a condition called idiopathic vestibular syndrome (IVS), which causes the dog to lose his balance and become very wobbly, hence owners often refer to it as a stroke. It is not known what causes the problem but it is usually older dogs that are affected. The signs can appear quite severe, but in most cases the condition will improve over a period of five to seven days.

A veterinary examination should always be sought to fully check the dog over and routine blood tests are a good idea to check for liver and kidney disease, given the age of these patients. Your vet may suggest medication such as steroids or a drug to boost the dog’s circulation in an effort to help blood flow to the brain. Unlike many strokes in humans, this condition in dogs does usually get better, so it is a good idea to tell your friend to speak to her vet and get her pet checked over.


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