Strokes are not commonly found in dogs, but many dogs get old age vestibular syndrome, which people often mistake for strokes. Discover ways to check for symptoms of these problems in dogs with help from a veterinarian in this free video on dog health and strokes.
Hi, I'm Dr. Greg McDonald and today we're talking about dog care, I'm a veterinarian Southern California McDonald Animal Hospital. One of the things that I'd like to talk about is a stroke in a dog and the strokes really are not very specific in dogs. We don't really see dogs that never been able to really diagnose a true stroke. And I personally think is because dogs don't live enough to get clogged arteries like humans do. But the older dogs do have a very classical disease that people think is a stroke, and it's called Old Age Vestibular Syndrome. Now what happens with that, is the animal actually has this happen suddenly. They're walking along pretty normal and then all of a sudden they can't stand up, they have their head going off to the side. Their eyes sometimes will be sliding from side to side, it's called Horizontal Nystagmus. And often times the animals get so disoriented that they can be nauseated. So it's very hard for them to eat and stand up and the owners are really very concerned because they have an older animal that all of a sudden is having what appears to be stroke. The good news about this particular disease is that almost all of them get better. And I've had some that come in and they seem very, very sick on the day that they're presented, and by the next day, they're absolutely normal. I've had some that come in and it takes a week of treatment for them to slowly get better. And occasionally, we'll have an animal that still has a head tilt, they hold their head off to the side for the rest of their life. And those animals can live a normal life, they sometimes look a little funny, they sometimes bump into things because they can't keep their eyes quite straight. But again, it looks like a horrible disease that we're dealing with and the owners mistake this for stroke. But it's really an Old Age Vestibular Syndrome and it does happen to be in the middle ears where most of the damage is happening. And that's why they lose control of their balance, they sometimes are nauseated and their eyes flash back and forth. So if you see this happening, one of the good clues is to go ahead and hold your dog's head very still and watch the eyes. If the eyes are going back and forth very quickly, then you can understand that, that is Horizontal Nystagmus. Most likely your dog is older and he has Old Age Vestibular Syndrome. This is a model of a dog's ear and when they have this Old Age Vestibular Syndrome, this is the area in the middle ear that's being affected. Sometimes when we're thinking about this Old Age Vestibular Syndrome, are the dogs holding their head to the side, but we don't have the eyes flashing. It may be just be a very, very heavy duty ear infection. Dogs can get ear infections in this area here, but they also can get an ear infection down in the middle ear. And so sometimes if you don't have all the signs and symptoms for Old Age Vestibular Syndrome, it could be that your dog just has an ear infection.