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Can Dogs Get Concussions?

Can Dogs Get Concussions?

Dogs can get into accidents just like people and an impact on the skull can be quite alarming. Today our Long Island vets discuss concussions in dogs.

What is a Concussion?

The first part to understanding if your dog can get a concussion is to answer the question of what is a concussion. A concussion is a brain injury. There are two ways this normally is caused. The most common is a direct violent impact on the cranium. The second is where a sudden acceleration and deceleration motion causes the brain to take injuries by colliding with the skull.

Can Dogs Get Concussions?

The short answer is yes dogs can get concussions. They may be harder to diagnose than in their human companion but they do experience the negative effects of a concussion. The cause of dog concussion can range but the three big sources of concussions in dogs are car accidents, falls, and roughhousing with other dogs. If your dog has been in a car accident please have your dog seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

With dogs we cannot simply ask our canine companions a list of questions which is the standard diagnostic test to determine if humans are experiencing brain trauma such as name, date, and what do you remember what happened before the incident. We must instead gauge the severity of the trauma our dog experienced by the other symptoms that do present.

Here is a list of some things to watch for if your dog has a sudden collision to the cranium:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Pupils that are different sizes or don’t react to light
  • Trouble with balance or walking
  • Rapid shifting of the eyes
  • Low level conscious (awake but not really processing anything that is happening)

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has a Concussion?

First assess the situation. Has the danger passed that caused the injury? Deal with the cause of the trauma first. There is no point trying to treat the concussion if the cause of the injury has not been dealt with (e.g. hit by car - make sure they are not going to get hit again by getting them out of traffic).

Is your dog conscious? If not, why are you reading this article? Go take your dog to an emergency vet.

If they regain consciousness it is still recommended to take them to an emergency vet.

If they never lost consciousness, take them to a calm, quiet place and assess your dog's condition. If they are experiencing any of the above symptoms go to the vet. If after the trauma they are not experiencing any of the symptoms keep monitoring them and if you have any doubt we recommend going to see the vet.

If it is safe to do so, take off anything restricting the head and neck. Let your dog rest with their head slightly elevated.

Preventing Your Dog From Getting a Concussion

Dogs may not get concussions as often as humans due to their thicker skulls but they can still get them. Since it is normally the big traumas that give them concussion it is important to be vigilant as owners. This means not letting your dog run into traffic by strict discipline/leashes. Guard rails with small enough gaps to prevent your dog from falling from high areas like the porch or second floor of a home are suggested. Not letting your dog get into rough fights with other animals. Don’t let your small dog roughhouse with big dogs that can use your dog as a chew toy.

In Conclusion

Yes, dogs can get concussions. If your dog loses consciousness go see the vet immediately. Don’t let your dog play in traffic. When in doubt go see the vet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your dog had a recent head trauma? If so, contact our Long Island veterinary team right away. 

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