Concussion is an internal injury which occurs after a blow to the head. It can affect humans as well as dogs and, if not treated immediately, can have serious consequences.
It is very important to keep a close eye on your dog's behavior after a fall, collision, or any type of trauma to the head. The sooner you detect the signs of concussion, the quicker they can be treated. With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about head trauma and how to treat it.
1. What are the signs of head trauma in dogs?
The symptoms of concussion can vary greatly depending on the seriousness of the injury. A head trauma can cause various skull injuries such as inflammation, cerebral edema (brain swelling), bleeding, a hematoma or even a skull fracture or brain damage.
Most symptoms show themselves minutes or hours after the accident, but others can appear after several days. You should carefully monitor your animal's behaviour for up to 72 hours after the incident, particularly with puppies and small dogs, who are more fragile.
Here are the warning signs your dog could show if they have concussion:
- They sleep a lot, doze off and can not wake up properly.
- They lean their head against a wall and don't move.
- They seem down and withdrawn.
- They faint.
- They seem disorientated and lose balance easily.
- They have convulsions and muscular contractions.
- One of their pupil's is more dilated than the other, or they both seem to get smaller when the light changes.
- They get nosebleeds, or have blood in their ears.
- They vomit.
- They have difficulty breathing normally.
- Their heartbeat slows down or quickens.
- A lump forms where they were hit.
The slightest change in your dog's behaviour should alert you that something is wrong. The longer it takes to get to a veterinarian, the more likely that their injury could be fatal.
2. Diagnosing head trauma
Your vet will be the best person to judge the seriousness of the situation. Head injuries are fairly common and usually it's enough to simply tell them how they got the injury so that they know what needs to be done.
Source: Pets 4 homes
Basic tests will be carried out in order to check their heartbeat, movement and eyes. If your vet suspects that it's a serious injury, they will carry out an MRI.
They will then tell you the appropriate treatment and may advise that your dog be hospitalized.
3. Treating head injuries
If the injury is diagnosed as ' very minor' (without any visible signs of damage) your vet will usually ask you to carefully watch over their behaviour over the next 24 hours, if they don't keep them at the surgery to do it themselves.
Hospitalization will be considered if complications arise.
For a 'minor' head injury where your dog displays signs such as a loss of balance and confusion, hospitalization is usually recommended. The dog is then closely monitored, given oxygen, and then treated and fed intravenously.
If the injury is seen as 'severe', with symptoms such as a visible wound, then hospitalization is needed with the most serious cases then needing surgery.
Most head injuries are minor and won't have any lasting consequences if treatment starts in time. Some can last up to 14 days but will not have any long-term effects.
Be careful though; if your dog's behavior is still abnormal after 14 days, you will need to go back to the vet.
Your dog's health is essential in ensuring that they have a long and happy life by your side. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with signs of pain or discomfort in dogs, as well as some basic first aid.
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