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Concussion: recognize symptoms in dogs


A car accident, fall, or hard hit to the head can cause a concussion in the dog. Symptoms of this traumatic brain injury can sometimes only appear later - the more important it is that you know what to look out for and what you can do for your dog in such a case. The following tips will help you. After an accident or a slap on the head it says: go to the vet! Your dog may have a concussion - Shutterstock / Nestor Rizhniak

Dogs can easily put a light push against the head at the edge of the table or on the chair. They are well protected by their relatively thick skullcap. However, a particularly severe blow can cause a concussion in your dog. The symptoms are more or less easy to recognize, depending on how severe the traumatic brain injury is.

How does a concussion occur in dogs?

The dog's brain is not only protected by the cranium, but also by a liquid (cerebrospinal fluid) that flows around the spinal cord and is located between the brain and the cranium. In the event of an accident, a fall or a blow to the head, the brain may hit the inside of the skull wall. This can damage the brain tissue, and swelling occurs in severe cases. In the case of small dogs and puppies, an accidental kick can also result in a concussion. Also, be careful with your dog near horses - a horse hoof blow on the skull can also result in brain injury.

What are the symptoms of a concussion in the dog?

Watch your dog carefully after an accident, fall, or blow to the head. Sometimes, when a concussion occurs, the symptoms become noticeable later or they appear harmless at first and then get worse because the brain gradually swells. Attention! If your dog's consciousness is severely clouded or even loses it, it is an emergency. Go to the vet immediately.

If he seems relatively alert at first, look for the following signs of a traumatic brain injury:
● Your dog turns in a circle and appears confused or unsettled
● The pupils are of different sizes or greatly enlarged
● The eyes flicker or move strange back and forth
● Noticeably stiff or limp limbs
● Problems keeping the musculoskeletal system under control
● tremor
● Fast breathing
● nosebleeds
● bleeding ears
● seizures or convulsions
● Head misalignment
● vomiting

First aid for suspected concussion

If in doubt, you should go to the vet with your dog even if their consciousness is apparently in order and they are supposed to lack nothing. On the way there and in the waiting room you can do a little first aid. It is best not to go to the vet alone, but in pairs or by taxi so that you can take care of your dog and keep an eye on it during the trip. Keep calm and let your four-legged friend know that there is no need to worry.

Wrap it in a warm blanket and hold it so that its head is higher than its hind legs. This relieves the pressure inside the head and prevents the concussion from rapidly worsening. If your dog loses consciousness, open his mouth and pull his tongue forward so that he can breathe. Always be careful. Your dog is likely to be in shock, scared and insecure. He might bite you in emotion because he doesn't know you mean well with him.

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Concussion in the dog: diagnosis by the veterinarian

Based on your description of the course of the accident and the condition of your dog, the veterinarian will already get an idea of ​​how severe the traumatic brain injury is. The doctor shines a flashlight in the dog's eyes and checks whether the pupils react to the incidence of light. An X-ray examination also provides information on how severe the head injury is, for example whether there is a skull fracture.

The doctor also examines whether your four-legged friend's consciousness really shows no abnormalities. If he can still be addressed normally, reacts to stimuli as usual, with luck it is only a slight concussion that will probably heal itself. If he looks quieter, less drive than usual, but still reacts to stimuli, the condition is already more serious. If there are very strong stimuli to trigger a reaction in the dog or if the dog is actually passed out, the veterinarian must act quickly.

How can a concussion be treated in dogs?

The veterinarian will treat the individual symptoms of concussion in the dog. For example, he can administer sedatives against the shock, and there are also medications that inhibit the seizures and cramps or relieve the pain. If the brain is swollen, there are also medications available. It may also be necessary for your dog to be artificially ventilated and provided with liquid or food if its consciousness is severely impaired. A skull fracture in which bone fragments have loosened must be operated on.