Symptoms and Treatments for Dog Concussions
Do you have a dog? Has she recently suffered an injury? Are you concerned that she may have a concussion? If your dog has been recently injured, especially with a head injury, there is a chance she could be experiencing a concussion. Although it can be difficult to tell when a dog has a concussion, there are several signs you should learn to look for. If you see these signs, take her to the vet for proper treatment right away.
Below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the risk of concussions in dogs. You’ll learn the symptoms of this condition and what to expect from treatments for your pet, too. If you think your dog has a concussion, go to the vet or emergency vet for specific assistance.
Dogs may become lethargic for a variety of reasons. However, if your dog becomes lethargic or uninterested in food and activity following a head injury, this could be a sign that she’s dealing with a concussion.
Difficulty Standing or Balancing
Trouble standing up or balancing following a head injury can quickly indicate a concussion. These symptoms may be associated with other long-term problems, such as brain tumor, as well. However, if they happen suddenly, concussion is the more likely cause.
Vomiting can be caused by many underlying issues in dogs. If your dog is showing other signs on this list along with vomiting after experiencing head trauma, she may be suffering from a concussion. Take your dog to the emergency vet, as a concussion with vomiting can be dangerous, and vomiting can also lead to dehydration quickly.
Differing Pupil Sizes
Sometimes, a dog with a concussion may present with two different pupil sizes at the same time. This symptom is less common than some others on this list, but it is still important to check your dog’s eyes when you think she may have a concussion.
Seizures on their own, especially without a known head injury, typically are not related to concussions in dogs. If your dog is having seizures following an injury, however, she needs to see an emergency vet, as this could be a symptom of a serious concussion.
Confusion may or may not be seen in dogs with concussions, but it isn’t uncommon. Your dog may forget where she is, get “lost” somewhere in the home, or forget human family members. Her behavior and temperament may change as a result of this symptom, and she may appear more aggressive, defensive, or fearful than usual.
Listed below are treatment methods for this condition:
IV fluids are typically given to dogs who have concussions because they have been vomiting or not drinking due to nausea. Your dog may be dehydrated and require IV fluids to help her recover from the secondary symptoms associated with her concussion. If she does need fluids, she will need to stay at the emergency vet for a while to receive them.
If your dog’s concussion is severe, she may need to be put on oxygen to help her breathe until she recovers. This treatment is given on a case-by-case basis, and not every dog with a concussion will require supplementary oxygen support.
Surgery is not usually required to help a dog recover from a concussion. Depending on the severity of the concussion and the injury that caused it, however, your dog could need some type of surgery. Your emergency vet will tell you if surgery is a potential treatment for your dog’s condition.
Your vet will give you more information about the type and frequency of rest your dog needs. She may need to be kept awake for a while, or it may be best for her to sleep off the concussion, depending on her specific situation.
Finally, you and your vet will need to work together to monitor your dog in the coming days. In many instances, dogs will recover fully from concussions with very little trouble. However, it will be necessary to keep an eye on your pet to ensure her symptoms don’t worsen while she’s trying to recover.
Bring Your Pet to VEG for All Symptoms of Dog Concussions
If your dog is exhibiting any symptoms of a concussion or if she has recently been injured, take her to the vet to be examined. Many dogs try to hide their pain and injuries, and it is possible that your dog could have a concussion even if she isn’t showing signs of one.
If your dog is severely injured, take her to the emergency vet, even if the injuries are not visible. Internal damage and bleeding are common in dogs following injuries and trauma, and a vet will need to examine and treat your pet in this situation.
At VEG, we care about your dog’s health and are always prepared to handle any emergency situation that may occur. We have locations all over the country, with most being open 24/7, including holidays. If your dog is showing symptoms of a concussion, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We have emergency veterinarians who are ready to talk with you and guide you on the next best steps to make sure your pet gets the care she needs.
Dr. Sarah Pietropaoli DVM, VEG Georgetown
University of Virginia: Bachelor of Arts
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Master’s of Public Health
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
VEG is a network of Emergency Veterinarians located across the country. We are dedicated to helping people and their pets when they need it most. If your pet is ever in an emergency situation, use the link below to find our nearest location so we can get your pet the help they need.