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Old 05-26-2010, 12:53 PM
795 posts, read 4,198,366 times
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If you're ever seen a dog have a stroke, could you please tell me what it looked like?

The reason why I ask is because Barnaby, my 13-year old shih tzu, had a very strange episode this morning. We took a walk like normal, and at the end he got a little hot, so I carried him back to the car. When we got back to the house, he was trying to rush inside, but it took me a minute to get things out of the car.

Inside the house in the downstairs foyer, he immediately dropped to the floor to, I assume, try to cool off on the linoleum. I had to sort of pull him to his feet to be able to lift him and carry him upstairs.

On the way up the stairs, I noticed he was not in correct position under my right arm. His upper body was sort of curved around so that he was resting heavily on my chest.

I set him down at the top of the landing, and he immediately fell right back down over the stairs to the first step, but because I was right behind him, I caught him and gave him a little push back up to the landing. I saw immediately that the reason he fell was because he was sort of curved around in a circle, like his head was pulled back to his hindquarters.

I think I thought he was trying to scratch. I definitely was not yet aware we had a problem

When he then didn't move forward though the puppy gate, I put both hands under his tush, and gave him a gentle push through the baby gate.

He sort of stumbled through, still curved back on himself in that weird circle. He couldn't stand, couldn't walk, just fell over against the lamp and then the end of the couch.

I took a couple of hurried steps forward, and threw a bag into the trash across the room, and then immediately looked back over my shoulder to see him stumble forward, still locked in that position with his head pulled in a circle back to his hindquarters. He then fell against my purse at the end of the coffee table.

I stepped straight back to him, sat down on the floor, and pulled him to me, leaving him in the curled position. I didn't want to move him out of that position since I didn't know what was happening. I didn't want to accidentally break bones or strain muscles. His eyes were clear, pupils not dilated, eyes not rolled back.

I was stunned, asking myself: Is he having a stroke? Is he having something related to a heat stroke? Is he having loss of control related to the herniated disc in his neck?

I scooped him up and ran into the kitchen, sat him down near his water bowl, and got him fresh water. He drank, then was able to walk in a straight line to me, where I sat about two feet away on the kitchen floor. I had him lie down and just lie still for a couple of minutes on that cool floor.

Then, I swear, he just stood up and walked away like nothing happened.

Next thing I know, he's barking for his after-walk treat.

It's maybe the weirdest thing I've ever seen with him... and I've seen a lot of weird things with this dog!

(I've called the vet. He wasn't in the office, am waiting to call back when everyone's back in the office...)

So, if you've seen a dog have a stroke (or a seizure), what did it look like? Did it look like this?
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:16 PM
7,373 posts, read 13,484,206 times
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I have not seen a stroke but maybe he had heat exhaustion. Its very hot out and with all that fur and because of his age he may very well have been exhausted.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:24 PM
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,308 posts, read 36,205,686 times
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"CHARLIE HORSE!!" keeps popping into my head.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:26 PM
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
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Oh gosh, no, I haven't, but I hope the vet calls you back soon and that there's a simple explanation. Sending you and Barnaby good vibes...
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:14 PM
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thank you so much for your fast replies!

i talked to a vet at our regular practice (but not our regular vet), and she said one clear sign of a stroke would have been that his mouth would have been clenched together, which i don't think it was, and that he probably would have been drooling, which i know he wasn't. she also said in a seizure his body would have been straight and rigid.

she theorized that he was in an acute moment of pain and unable to move caused perhaps by me pressing on his disc when climbing the stairs... but i don't know about this theory. i've seen him in acute moments of back pain, and at those times he's screamed when he's been touched, not gone rigid with his body locked in a circle.

so, with luck, maybe it was just heat exhaustion, like you say skel, or something like a charlie horse, jimbo (which actually was my mom's theory as well!)...

i swear, never a dull moment with this boy... especially since, an hour later (after i wrote the first post), he sat up from his nap, burped, and then needed help with the collapsing trachea problem... some days he works me hard!

then i take him out in public, and people say: oh, he's so beautiful! he looks so happy! is he a puppy?

NO! he's a stinking old man! you want him??? (no, i'm just kidding! i love him, crazy episodes and all!)
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:51 PM
Location: Mostly in my head
19,864 posts, read 60,023,560 times
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Dehydration could give him muscle spasms. I get charlie horses, trigger fingers, spasms in my thighs when I get dehydrated. Maybe carry water for him now that it's hot? Hope he continues on!
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:58 PM
795 posts, read 4,198,366 times
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you know, that's a good point! i do usually have water waiting for him in the car, and this morning i didn't, but it was only a minute or two to our front door, so i thought he was okay... he's on exercise restriction, so i've been driving him to different parts of our neighborhood so he can still see the different sights/smell the different smells even if he can't walk down there anymore.

the other thing i thought about was the fact that he's been on a new dog food for a couple of weeks, iam's intestinal low residue, to help with his ulcer/kidney problems. i wonder if he's not getting enough potassium, but i don't know how to tell. i don't see potassium listed on the label, but again i don't really know what i'm looking for.

i have a feeling this episode will remain a mystery... much to my dissatisfaction.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:46 PM
1,688 posts, read 7,460,400 times
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OP - what was his breathing like?

I have a "medical marvel" of a dog. Long story, but her "thermostat" is broken and she can't control her body temperature. I can now (having learned the hard way, believe me) spot the signs of increasing body temperature in her. One of her dead give-aways is although she'd be breathing rapidly normally - as any hot dog would be - her rib cage actually starts to bellow a bit. It's a subtle difference, but it's there.

If it happens again with him, and you suspect heat to be the cause, wet his feet first and foremost. It's the most effective way to bring down their temperature if it's gone up.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:40 PM
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fivehorses -- i'm so glad you told me that... what i usually do when i come in after a hot day (actually, i did it today on our afternoon walk), is wet paper towels and smooth them over his whole body, back, neck, shoulders, stomach, groin area, and feet. i thought i had read that the groin area and feet were the areas to concentrate on, but i wasn't exactly sure why the groin area was included.

since i keep his hair in a puppy cut during the summer, i feel like some of the cool water gets to his skin on his back, etc., but i don't actually know if this is helpful or not. (i really have to watch him during the summer b/c he has some heart problems, and i don't want him to get too hot anyway.)

to answer your question, his breathing seemed like normal panting... and b/c i actually carried him the last 20 feet or so of our walk and then up our stairs, i could feel him against my body, and again his breathing felt like normal panting... but that might be a distinction that i wouldn't recognize.

(hope that your doggy is doing okay in the heat... can't believe how warm it is already this year!) (oh, shoot! tried to rep you, but couldn't!)
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:42 PM
8,232 posts, read 12,608,385 times
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I thought my dog was having a stroke, he was sort of stumbling around and fell over. Took him to the vet, xrayed - he had Hemangiosarcoma - a type of cancer. Because of the tumor which is very vascular he had blood in the sac around his heart which was constricting his heart. This happened on a very hot day. But before you panic this particular cancer is usually seen in more medium to large dogs after 7 years of age. So heat exhaustion is certainly a possiblity but also something involving the heart that causes heat intolerance?
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