If your dog is the victim of blunt force head trauma or any type of attack, it’s imperative to bring your beloved pet to a veterinarian as quickly as possible to assess for internal damage. One of the often-undervalued diagnoses to come out of head trauma is a concussion.
Concussions are typically the result of blunt force trauma, which can occur from any smack in the head if it’s hard enough. Potential causes of concussion include:
It’s also possible for dogs to experience a concussion as the result of trauma, such as an animal attack, especially if the dog is small enough to be shaken or thrown during a confrontation.
For puppies who still have open fontanels (the “soft spot” in their skull), the potential for and dangers of concussion are elevated. If you have a breed with known fontanel issues, such as teacup and toy breeds, it’s vital to know if your precious pooch has a fontanel with partial or lack of closure for their safety.
Dogs can’t verbally tell us when something is wrong, which leaves it up to you to observe them for signs of concussion. Luckily, the signs of a concussion in your dog are similar to those of a human concussion:
While some of these symptoms may not appear, or the symptoms that do appear may be mild, it’s possible to experience long-term damage as the result of an untreated concussion. Even if your dog seems to temporarily recover, it’s advised that you bring your pooch to a trained veterinarian as quickly as possible for a checkup.
First, ensure your dog’s comfort during transport or while waiting for medical attention. Address potential shock by speaking soothingly and covering your dog with a blanket. Shock is what happens when your dog’s internal systems are deprived of proper blood or oxygen flow. Signs of shock include signs such as panting or rapid breathing, shivering or convulsions, weakness, and a fluttery pulse. Their mouth may also turn colors other than pink, such as red or white.
It’s crucial that you bring your dog to the vet as quickly as possible. Reduce intracranial pressure by keeping their head above their hindquarters. Remove their collar or any other device that may restrict breathing. You may need to fashion a quick stretcher or use a board to transport your dog into a vehicle and again into the vet’s office.
If your dog stops breathing, perform CPR. To reduce the risk, keep an eye on their breathing patterns. If they lose consciousness, open their mouth and move their tongue to open their airway.
Your vet will likely perform a neurologic evaluation as well as a basic physical by checking temperature and blood pressure. If a severe concussion is suspected or other injuries are present, an MRI may be ordered and your vet may want to keep your dog for overnight observation. It’s important to note that brain swelling from a concussion may not occur until up to 24 hours after the initial injury.
Most concussions are mild and require nothing more than rest and observation. In these cases, it’s important to provide your dog with a calm, quiet place to recover, but one in which you can still check on them regularly.
In more severe cases, especially those that lead to extended unconsciousness or dangerous symptoms such as seizures or paralysis, further treatment may be required. Your vet will treat the symptoms caused by the concussion, in addition to considering:
If you suspect that your dog has a health problem, bring it to Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency today. We serve Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth, and areas nearby Ventura County. We’ve been voted the #1 animal hospital for over 19 years running in our full-care facility, with an in-house laboratory and digital radiography to provide only the best and most immediate services when you need them most.