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Can Dogs Get Concussions?

Humans aren't the only ones at risk of getting a concussion. Dogs get concussions just as easily as we do and here are the causes and symptoms.

Whenever we hear about concussions, we immediately think about athletes because so many of them get concussions during games. But we're not the only ones at risk of getting one but dogs get concussions, too. I recently figured this out when one of my dogs accidentally hit her head on the wall. 

I didn't think it would be possible since they're so energetic and move around so much. Since dogs can't talk, I had to figure it out on my own. After looking up the symptoms online, I noticed that a few of them matched up to what my pup was doing and immediately brought her to the vet for treatment. See if your dog has a concussion and ways to prevent the injury.

Causes of a Canine Concussion

The ways humans get a concussion are slightly different from dogs. Dogs get concussions from a variety of causes like car accidents, falls from high elevations, head butts or kicks from rough playing, and running into hard objects. 

Even though all dogs are at risk of getting a concussion, smaller dogs are more susceptible to getting it because of they’re usually carried around. Sometimes smaller dogs are dropped and that could be their source of a concussion.

If any of those have happened to your dog, it's crucial to bring them to the vet because the severity of a concussion can be difficult to judge without getting a professional medical examination.

Symptoms

When it comes to a human concussion, doctors usually asks questions for memory check and brain functions. Since you can't ask a dog questions, finding the symptoms are a bit harder.

For starters, if your dog instantly loses consciousness, do not hesitate to bring them to medical attention. You don't want to wait around for your dog to wake up because either way, your dog had a serious impact to the head.

There are more subtle signs of a canine concussion like struggling to balance or walk, vomiting, or a condition called anisocoria where the pupils are different sizes. There are additional symptoms when dogs get concussions like constant falling, seizures, and paralysis. If you dog does vomit, make sure you know how to deal with it.

Even if your pet’s pupils and movements are completely normal, there are other signs that your dog can suffer with from a concussion. One sign is a depressed level of consciousness, which is a sign in humans, too. Your dog can look very dull or even sedated, where they aren’t interacting or being responsive.

Another symptom that requires really close attention is abnormal ocular reflexes where the pet owner will pick up on rapid side-to-side or up-and-down movements of the eyes. Dogs are quick with their movements, too. However, if your dog isn’t following along, your pup can have a head trauma. 

Suspicious of a Concussion

When you start to suspect that your pup has a concussion, the first thing that you should do is stop whatever activity your dog is currently involved in and place them in a calm place. If you see that your dog has a normal level of consciousness and he’s fine but slightly shocked by the impact, inspect for other signs of a concussion. There can be moments when they aren't displaying any symptoms when dogs get concussions, but if the impact looked severe, it’s still the best idea to bring them to medical attention to make sure there isn’t a problem.

Even if your dog lost consciousness for a moment and recovered, it’s still crucial to bring him to see a veterinarian to check for any additional problems. You should always act quickly in cases like a concussion because certain cases need the vet’s approval to go home, eat, and rest. If the dog doesn’t see the vet and has pain, nausea, and isn’t eating or drinking right, those secondary problems after an impact can start to evolve and worsen later on.

Remember, it’s always the best decision to bring your pet to the vet after a head trauma just to be safe! 

Medical Attention

When you’re bringing your dog to the vet, it’s really important to avoid any further injuries along the way. You want to follow important safety guidelines when bringing your pup to the vet. If your dog is semi-conscious or not doing well at all, the best rule is to keep the head elevated at about a 30-degree angle to relieve pressure on the brain. You can do this by using a cushion or a pillow.

Your dog should not be picked up around the head or neck area because it can impact the blood flow to the brain. If you need to put your pet on a leash, use a shoulder harness or simply loop a leash or rope around one side of the neck and between the dog’s front legs.

If your dog cannot walk on her own, she must be transferred onto a board or stretcher, which also means you need a friend to get her safely into the car. If your pup is completely unconscious or is suffering from any severe symptoms, it’s best if you call the vet ahead so they can prepare everything before you arrive. Always remember to know what pet insurance is and if it is worth it, because it getting your dog treated can be expensive; but it's worth it. 

Treatments

When your pet is getting medial attention, treatment varies on the severity of the injury, but there are a few standard procedures. They usually make sure that the heart and lungs are working perfectly and then they check for dehydration or low blood pressure. The common treatments are intravenous fluid support, oxygen, and medicine to help with nausea.

When there’s an actual case of head trauma, vets want to keep the dog for monitoring because there can be incidences like swelling of the brain and/or intracranial bleeding. These symptoms can worsen if vets don’t keep your dog for further treatments.

It’s always important for a vet to observe your dog due to the dangers of secondary injury when dogs get concussions. Secondary injuries can occur after the impact where it sets off a cascade in the brain and ignites swelling, inflammation, and possible bleeding. Only a veterinarian is equipped to notice these problems.

Believe it or not, single concussions in canines don’t usually lead to severe, long-lasting damage, especially when treated immediately.  

Prevention of Canine Concussions

Since dogs are susceptible to concussions, you can prevent your pet from getting them. Concussions don’t come from little bumps on the head every now and then. Dogs get concussions from serious situations like car accidents, animal attacks, or falls from high places. The best protection we can give to our dogs is being a responsible pet owner. This means keeping your dog on a leash and fenced in, and not walking around the streets unleashed, having your pet near aggressive dogs, or in dangerous areas. Constantly protecting your furry friend will prevent them from getting any injuries like a concussion!

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