head trauma in dogs

Head Trauma in Dogs

Canine Head Trauma

Head trauma is a blunt or penetrating injury occurring to the head. In dogs it may occur due to a variety of causes, the most common of which is a motor vehicle accident. Other causes include blunt trauma such as being hit by bats or swings or being stepped on, falls, gunshot wounds or animal fights.

Brain dysfunction may be the result of concussion, swelling, bruising, laceration, fractures, compression or bleeding.

What to Watch For

If you suspect that your dog has suffered head trauma observe him for the following:

Diagnosis of Canine Head Trauma

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize head trauma and determine its severity. A complete medical history and physical examination are important parts of the initial diagnosis of head trauma. Tests and procedures that your veterinarian may wish to perform include:

Treatment of Canine Head Trauma

The treatment of head trauma will depend upon the cause and magnitude of the injury.

Home Care and Prevention

Head trauma is a life-threatening emergency. If you suspect that your dog has suffered head trauma, take him to your veterinarian for evaluation as soon as possible.

While you are waiting for your dog to be examined, keep him warm, hold his head elevated or level with the rest of the body and minimize pressure on his neck, head or back.

Be careful when handling your dog to avoid being bitten. Your dog may not be aware of what he is doing and could inadvertently injure you.

Keep your dog on a leash to avoid the potential for an accident that might result in head trauma. Take special care with frightened animals; they may run into the street or highway. Do not let dogs outside unleashed and unattended.

Puppies are particularly prone to injury by being stepped on, rolled on with a rocking chair or caught in a recliner. Do not allow young children to handle puppies unsupervised.

In-depth Information on Canine Head Trauma

Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in head trauma. It is important to exclude these conditions before establishing a definite diagnosis. In cases where there is obvious external injury to the skull or bleeding from the ear canal or nostrils, a diagnosis of head trauma is more obvious. In situations where there is no obvious evidence of head trauma, an alternate diagnosis list should be considered. This includes:Abscess or infection in the brain

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests must be performed to confirm the diagnosis of head trauma and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. The initial diagnostic approach may include:

In-depth Diagnostic Information on Head Trauma in Dogs

Additional diagnostic tests may be carried out in order to detect other injuries:

In-depth Treatment Information on Head Trauma in Dogs

Treatment of head trauma must be individualized based on the severity of the condition and other factors that must be analyzed by your veterinarian. Initial therapy of head trauma follows rapid assessment of head injury and neurologic status. It includes oxygen therapy, possibly steroids (controversial), hyperosmotic fluids and repeat neurological examinations. Pain, seizures and hemorrhage are usually treated according to need. Severe cases of head trauma may be referred to an emergency clinic or neurologist.

Supportive Therapy for Head Trauma in Dogs

Prognosis for Head Trauma Injuries in Dogs

The prognosis is dependent upon the degree and area of brain injury, response to therapy as well as secondary injuries. Coma that lasts greater than 48 hours or deteriorating clinical signs carry a grave prognosis for recovery.

Home Care for Head Trauma in Dogs

Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up for head trauma often includes the following recommendations:

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