Dogs And Strokes

Patient Expert

I recently had a scary experience concerning one of my pets. My little boy poodle, auburn in color, had a seizure. His name is Rocky and he's about one year old. I named him Rocky because I feel he's a fighter. I saved him from an abusive breeder, who kept him in a dirty cage. He had matted hair and was malnourished. Anyway, he's been a joy to have and even though I wasn't too keen on having another pet (I already have a mutt and a cat), I now have this bond with him.

A few weeks ago when he had his seizure, it brought back memories of my stroke. While the two are quite different, both came on suddenly and in each instance, I felt helpless. Rocky's seizure only lasted about a minute.

He was then paralyzed for about another minute, then suddenly snapped back to normal. I took him to the vet and after a variety of tests, he got a clean bill of health. The vet said he couldn't explain why Rocky had a seizure, but there was a 90 percent chance it could happen again. The whole thing made me sad. He's so young to have such an illness. The same could be said about me as well, being only 31 when I had my stroke. I feel Rocky and I now share this little bond. I do worry about him constantly.

Therefore, I really baby him a lot, which he enjoys After this experience, I wondered about dogs and strokes. While heat strokes are more common in animals, I did discover some older dogs suddenly lose their balance as though they have had a stroke. It's interesting because even though the symptoms are similar in that respect, strokes in dogs aren't caused by a blood clot to the brain like in humans. Instead they are caused by inflammation of the vestibular or balance canals. The cause is still unknown. The good thing is in a dog, the condition can be treated and many dogs recover within 2 weeks.

During my research, I also found that many stroke patients can use dogs in their recovery. Research has found pets can help people with loneliness, but also in daily life routines. Many people know dogs help blind people, but they also are trained to help people with disabilities. Since a stroke can affect a person's mobility in their arms and legs, these trained canines can help stroke victims in many ways. For instance, these dogs can turn on a light switch or retrieve their keys. I'm obviously a dog lover, but I think it's wonderful how our furry friends are not only great companions, but can help us through the most trying times of our lives, especially an illness.

Here are a couple of links on dog strokes and canine companions:

Pet HealthCare

Canine Companions