Your Dog May Suffer a Brain Injury, Hereโ€™s What You Should Know


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As dogs are extremely active animals, it?s possible for them to suffer from brain injury due to accidents with vehicles, getting stepped on, getting hit by swings or blunt objects, and fights with other animals. As the rate of mortality is high when a dog has a brain injury, it is important to know when your dog has one and what you can do to save its life.

What is a brain injury?

A brain injury occurs when there is trauma to the head which will result in neurological dysfunction. It commonly happens due to accidents and there are two types of brain injury.Primary brain injury is when there is direct trauma and secondary brain injury is a change in the brain tissue that takes place after a primary injury. Secondary injuries can be prevented, managed, and can be made better with proper care and treatment.

What causes a brain injury?

A brain injury is caused by but not limited to the following:

  • Forceful trauma (car accident)
  • Decreased blood flow to the brain
  • Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose
  • High blood pressure
  • Toxins
  • Immune-mediated diseases
  • Parasites in the brain
  • Brain tumor
  • Extreme hyperthermia or hypothermia
  • Infections in the nervous system
Symptoms of brain injury

The signs of brain injury may be blatantly obvious or it might not be apparent. Unless you were there to witness the accident that caused the injury, it can get difficult to know whether your dog is hurt or not. If you see any of the following symptoms, take your pet to the vet immediately.

  • The pupils differ in size
  • Seizures
  • Rigid/flaccid limbs
  • Bleeding from the ear canal or nostril
  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Rapid or heavy breathing
  • The skin has bluish discoloration
  • Loss of consciousness
Treatment of brain injury

The main aim of the vet will be to stabilize the dog by normalizing the temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen levels in the brain to prevent hypoxia. In order to aid the breathing process, a tube may be inserted to supply oxygen. Fluid therapy will be done to restore the heart rate and maintain blood pressure. The head of the dog will be elevated and medication will be administered to reduce swelling in the brain. The dog will also be turned every two hours to avoid further complications. Within 24 hours, the dog should show improvement. Surgery may be required if the condition is critical.

Recovery from brain injury

The recovery of your dog depends on the extent of brain injury, age, and physical condition. Physical therapy will be provided as a part of the recovery regimen, which includes swimming, supported walking, and extension of limbs. With the help of your vet, your dog should show significant improvement but there are chances that they may not recover fully. The entire process will be stressful for your dog so be involved as much as possible so that they are comfortable. It may take weeks or months but you will notice significant improvement.

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