Signs a dog has a concussion

puppy image by Lisa Eastman from

Concussions can effect any dog, although puppies and toy breeds with a soft spot, or open fontanelle, are most susceptible. A dog may develop a concussion under the same circumstances a human would--as a result of a blow to the head. In dogs, head trauma can occur during play, due to a fall or through abuse.

While a concussion usually is not serious, the symptoms of a concussion are similar to more severe head injuries and should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of head trauma such as a concussion often are easily identified. One common symptom is that the dog loses consciousness for a brief period--although this is not always the case. A less-severe blow may render the dog simply woozy or disoriented. Other signs of a concussion include sickness. A dog may be sick to his stomach and refuse to eat or drink, or he may eat normally and vomit frequently. Dilated pupils, in either eye or both, in the presence of bright light is another common indicator of concussion or other head trauma. Seizures occasionally accompany serious concussions as well.


Changes to the dog's behaviour can indicate head trauma or concussion. After a blow to the head, a dog may be lethargic, excessively tired and act disoriented. The dog may not come when his name is called, play or go through his normal activities. Additionally, he may attempt to sleep excessively and be difficult to wake. He may allow his head to hang rather than sit upright and could show signs of pain, yelping, recoiling or snarling when the bruised area is touched.

Cause for Concern

A concussion requires medical attention quickly to ensure that a more serious brain injury, such as a skull fracture, swelling and bleeding, has not occurred. Symptoms of a concussion are similar to those of more traumatic injuries and require immediate treatment. Seizures and unconsciousness are common in cases of a canine concussion, but may also be present in severe brain trauma. Lethargy resulting from a concussion actually could be weakness and paralysis indicative of a more serious brain or spinal injury.