Identifying Dog Concussion Symptoms: Signs, Treatment, and Prevention

dog concussion symptoms
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Dog concussions are comparable to human concussions, but because dogs can’t communicate in our language, they can’t tell us how they’re feeling, and we have to analyze their symptoms to know how to care for them. This article will explain the most common causes of dog concussions, dog concussion symptoms, and how to treat them properly.

What Is A Dog Concussion?

A canine concussion is very similar to a human concussion. In contrast to a canine skull fracture, it is a traumatic brain injury, which means that the brain is the primary location of the head injury. Both can occur concurrently, but the dog does not have to have one to have the other.

Concussions can develop when the brain is jostled inside the skull as a result of a direct hit to the head or an impact that jars the brain. One example of the latter is when one dog runs into the body of another dog. The head was not directly hit, but the impact was so strong that the brain moved with too much force inside the skull, resulting in a concussion.

A Coup-Contrecoup occurs when the brain is destroyed on both sides, where it was struck and where it bounced against the other side of the skull.

There are additional contusions, which occur when the brain is hit directly rather than from movement, and a Diffuse Axonal injury induced by a shaking or rotating motion, such as shaken baby syndrome.

An impact to the head or body is the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injury and concussion.

Because most dogs have thick skulls, they are less prone to suffer head injuries than humans, but this also makes recognizing how hurt our dog is less instinctive. We believe individuals appear to be healthy on the outside, with no visible head injuries, and may be unaware that their brain has been injured.

Concussions are more likely to result in temporary or permanent brain injury than in death, but death remains a possibility. The dog is likely to injure itself again, and even worse, they may suffer internal bleeding or go into shock.

Dog Concussion Symptoms

If you suspect your dog has a concussion, take him to the vet or an emergency vet. Here are some dog concussion symptoms you might notice in your dog:

#1. Lethargy

Dogs can feel drowsy for a variety of causes. However, if your dog becomes lethargic or uninterested in food and activities after a head injury, she may be suffering from a concussion.

#2. Trouble standing or balancing

Standing or balancing difficulties after a head injury can immediately indicate a concussion. These symptoms may also be associated with other long-term issues, such as a brain tumor. However, if they occur quickly, concussion is more likely to be the reason.

#3. Vomiting

In dogs, vomiting can be caused by a variety of underlying disorders. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, in addition to vomiting, she may be suffering from a concussion. Take your dog to the emergency vet right away since a concussion combined with vomiting can be hazardous, and vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration.

#4. Differences in pupil size

A dog with a concussion may have two different pupil diameters at the same time. Although this symptom is less prevalent than others on our list, it is nevertheless crucial to inspect your dog’s eyes if you suspect she has a concussion.

#5. Seizures

Seizures on their own, especially when there is no documented head damage, are usually unrelated to concussions in dogs. If your dog has seizures after an injury, she should see an emergency vet right away because this could be a sign of a serious concussion.

#6. Confusion

Confusion can occur in dogs with concussions, but it is not uncommon. Your dog may become disoriented, become “lost” somewhere in the house, or forget human family members. As a result of this symptom, her demeanor and temperament may change, and she may look more aggressive, defensive, or afraid than usual.

Read Also: The Cost of ACL Surgery for Dogs

What is the Cause of Dog Concussion?

Being hit by a car being in a car accident roughhousing by themselves or with other animals or their family members accidentally being struck with a ball, baseball bat, tool, etc. while around people falling or being dropped running into walls or trees being attacked by another dog or large animal being deliberately or accidentally kicked by a large animal something falling on them suffering abuse


Treatment options for this condition are as follows:

#1. Fluids IV

Dogs with concussions who have been vomiting or not drinking owing to nausea are usually given IV fluids. Your dog may be dehydrated and need IV fluids to recover from the subsequent symptoms of her concussion. If she needs fluids, she will need to stay at the emergency vet for some time.

#2. Oxygen

If your dog’s concussion is severe, she may need to be placed on oxygen until she heals. This medication is administered on an individual basis, and not every dog suffering from a concussion will require supplemental oxygen support.

#3. Surgery

This is usually not required to help a dog recover from a concussion. However, depending on the severity of the concussion and the accident that caused it, your dog may require surgery. Your emergency veterinarian will advise you whether surgery is a viable therapeutic option for your dog’s condition.

#4. Rest

Your veterinarian will provide you with more information regarding the type and frequency of rest your dog need. She may need to be kept awake for a while, or it may be appropriate for her to sleep off the concussion, depending on her individual situation.

#5. Monitoring

Finally, you and your vet will need to work together to monitor your dog in the coming days. In many circumstances, dogs will recover totally from concussions with very little effort. However, it will be vital to keep an eye on your pet to ensure her symptoms don’t worsen while she’s attempting to heal.

Can Dogs Sleep After Having A Concussion? 

You may not want to allow your dog to go to sleep for the first few hours after a known or suspected head injury so you can judge whether they are lethargic or not and notice other symptoms, but if you are still concerned about them after this time enough to wonder if they can sleep or not, you should call their vet for advice to be sure. They can’t stay up as long as the period could take for them to display symptoms and the stress of forcing them to stay awake for longer periods is both not beneficial for them and not an honest depiction of their health.

Read Also: Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe for Dogs? Usage, Risks, and First Aid Tips

Dog Concussions and Dog Breeds

While most dogs have thick skulls, some dog breeds, especially toy breeds and those with short heads, have remarkably fragile skulls, particularly those with open fontanels, space between the bones. These dogs should be taken to the vet immediately following a known or suspected head injury, without waiting for symptoms.

The “does my dog have a concussion?” protocol 

When your dog appears to have a concussion, you should follow a routine to keep them as safe as possible.

As previously indicated, the first step is to soothe the dog as much as possible. They are most likely disturbed and anxious as a result of their encounter, making it difficult to properly appreciate and assist them.

If your dog shows any signs of a concussion or has any visible signs of a head injury, they should go to the vet right away, or you should call the vet right away to get a professional opinion on their exact situation, even if it doesn’t appear to be that serious based on what you know happened and see in your dog.

Dog breeds with open fontanels should always be taken to the vet as soon as possible.

Apply pressure on the dog’s bleeding head wound to halt the bleeding. A cold compress may help any apparent head injuries, even a bruise, feel better.

Whether the dog exhibits any of the above-mentioned indicators of shock, elevate their head and monitor them to see whether CPR is required.

If the vet cannot rule out a concussion right away, they may keep them overnight to monitor their symptoms and prepare for emergencies. Dogs in critical condition may be kept for several days for treatment.

Read Also: What Does It Mean When My Dog’s Pupils Are Dilated?

The Future of Dog Concussions

Most dog concussions have no long-term consequences if treated promptly.

It is likely that the dog will suffer long-term or permanently diminished capacities, whether neurological or physical, as a result of the most serious injuries or secondary ailments. For example, people may lose mental functions, experience seizures, or the damaged region of the skull or other bodily components may never fully function again. Some dogs die as a result of the immediate or secondary harm.

When a dog suffers a concussion, it is critical to seek medical attention as quickly as possible and to safeguard the dog as much as possible through monitoring and care. If your dog is unfortunate enough to sustain long-term harm, remember that there are methods you may assist them live a fulfilling life that is not too dissimilar to their usual one. Special, soft meals can aid dogs with damaged jaws, seizures can be treated, wheelchairs can enable paralyzed or unstable dogs get exercise and play, and neurological damage can be repaired.

How Long Does a Concussion Last in a Dog?

In rare circumstances, the dog’s nervous system indications may deteriorate before treatment occurs. The amount of brain recovery may not be visible for several days. The dog’s complete level of recuperation may not be obvious for up to 6 months or longer.

How Long Does It Take To Tell If A Dog Has A Concussion?

Some concussions create visible symptoms within a few minutes while others take considerably longer. A dog with a concussion may appear to be fine immediately following an injury, but symptoms may arise hours or days later. A loss of consciousness is the most striking symptom of a concussion.

Can Dog Concussion Heal On Its Own?

Most dog injuries, like human concussions, must recover on their own.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Internal Bleeding?

  • The gums of your pet are pale to white.
  • Your pet’s legs, ears, and tail are cool.
  • Your pet is coughing up blood or has trouble breathing.
  • Your pet is unusually subdued; you may notice growing weakening and unexpected collapse.

Is A Concussion Reversible?

While the short-term symptoms of concussion are treatable, evidence indicates that even a single blow to the head can have long-term implications.

Will My Dog Forgive Me For Hitting Him?

Dogs can forgive their owners, but beating them can cause fear, anxiety, and harm to the owner-pet bond. Owners who strike their pets must devise a concrete plan to rebuild the bond and prevent this from happening again.

Dog Concussion Symptoms: Conclusion

While dogs are susceptible to concussions, they are usually avoidable. More violent events—the kinds of disasters from which we, as pet owners, can offer protection—such as car accidents, animal attacks, or falls from great heights, are what cause concussions. Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced-in area, away from violent dogs and high, unstable spots. 

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