Brain infarcts, or strokes as they are more commonly known, occur in dogs as well as in people. Just like in people, strokes tends to occur in older individuals and those with risk factors such as high blood pressure, Cushing’s disease, adrenal tumors called phaeochromocytomas, kidney disease and some types of heart disease. They also occur in animals with bleeding disorders, such as immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (IMTP). Strokes are classically sudden in onset and do not usually progress for more than 24 hours before stabilizing or improving. One common site is the cerebellum and these cases are often mistaken as idiopathic geriatric vestibular syndrome. Diagnosis can be confirmed only by an MRI. There is no treatment other than giving the animals time, good nursing care and physical therapy. The prognosis depends to some extent on the part of the brain involved but is more dependent on the size of the stroke. In general dogs have a better prognosis than people after stroke, mainly because dogs can still be functional pets despite serious brain injury; most dogs that are going to recover show significant improvement within 7-10 days.
- Results of diagnostic investigations and long-term outcome of 33 dogs with brain infarction (2000-2004) Garosi L, McConnell JE, Platt SR, Barone G, Baron JC, de Lahunta A, Schatzberg SJ. J Vet Intern Med. 2005 Sep-Oct;19(5):725-31.
- Clinical and topographic magnetic resonance characteristics of suspected brain infarction in 40 dogs Garosi L, McConnell JF, Platt SR, Barone G, Baron JC, de Lahunta A, Schatzberg SJ. J Vet Intern Med. 2006 Mar-Apr;20(2):311-21.