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How Should I Respond to My Older Dog’s Suspected Stroke: Immediate Vet or Wait?


Dear VetBabble: Recognizing and Responding to Canine Strokes and Seizures

I’m worried about my 14-year-old Cocker Spaniel mix. He seems to have had a stroke. Should I take him to an emergency vet or can it wait till morning? If it was a stroke or vestibular syndrome, is there anything a vet will do immediately? If it was a seizure, how can I identify it and when should I contact a vet?

Understanding Strokes and Vestibular Syndrome

Strokes in dogs are relatively rare and can be quite alarming for pet owners. However, when an older dog shows signs comparable to a stroke, it could be a condition known as Vestibular Syndrome, often referred to as ‘Old Dog Syndrome.’ Learn more about it in this in-depth article: Old Dog Syndrome: What is Vestibular Disease in Dogs?. This condition typically presents with a sudden loss of balance, head tilting, jerky eye movements, or even a rolling walk. Treatment in the initial 24-48 hours tends to be supportive including administering an antiemetic to prevent vomiting. If vomiting is a consistent problem, an article we have prepared Vomiting in Dogs: Causes, Treatment & When to Worry can provide further insight into managing it.

Recognizing and Handling Seizures

Know that seizures in dogs, while not common, do occur, and can be quite frightening both for the dog and the owner. A sudden episode of uncontrolled body movements, unconsciousness, or unusual behavior such as excessive drooling may indicate a seizure. We’ve made a guide – Seizures in Dogs that can help you to gain a better understanding of this medical issue. It’s crucial to remember that seizures usually last only a few seconds to a couple of minutes, followed by a period of confusion or disorientation. After that, dogs typically return to their normal behavior within an hour. While phoning your vet right after a single seizure is essential, immediate medical intervention is not always required unless the seizures are prolonged or recurrent.

Importance of Regular Check-Ups

Regular health checks are crucial to prevent and catch early potential health issues in dogs, especially as they age. Regular visits to your vet will keep you updated on your pet’s health status and provide a roadmap for care. Furthermore, they can offer specific advice on handling pet health emergencies. Here is a universally applicable read on Regular Health Checks for Dogs. Remember, if you’re ever in doubt or concerned about your dog’s health, it’s best to reach out to your vet who can provide advice based on their knowledge of your pet’s individual health condition. Always trust your instincts as a pet owner. Your actions can make a significant difference in your furry friend’s wellbeing.

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