To ensure they have not sustained a concussion, you will want to observe your dog for the next 24 hours. Dog head injury symptoms are easy to spot, and if they show any signs of illness, odd behavior, or other symptoms, you will want to take them to a veterinarian for treatment. A dog concussion, though rare, can prove dangerous if left untreated.
In this article, we will look at how to spot dog head injury symptoms, how dogs are hardier than humans (making head injuries less common), and what to do if your dog is acting strangely after hitting its head.
Will My Dog Be Okay if they Hit their Head?
According to Vetmedaz, a veterinarian clinic in Arizona, dogs have thicker skulls than humans and are not as susceptible to hurting themselves. Their bodies are built a little stronger, so if they run into a wall, they may develop a mild bump on the head that is no cause for alarm. Other times, with a more severe injury, a dog can develop a concussion, which needs to be treated quickly.
If you are in doubt about your pet, always ask a veterinarian for advice. Your vet will be looking for signs of head injury and will guide you as to what your dog needs.
How Do I Know If My Dog Hit Their Head Too Hard?
Your dog will communicate, through odd behavior, or physical symptoms, that they may have a head injury.
Depending on the situation, there are several types of head injuries to be aware of. These are brain bleeding, swelling, and concussions. Concussions are the most common type of head injury for dogs. Typically, concussions are visible in a dog’s behavior or condition.
How Do I Know if My Dog is Concussed, and What are the Common Dog Head Injury Symptoms?
Observe your dog to determine if they have any of the following:
- Unconsciousness: if your dog is unconscious, it’s a big sign they may have a head injury and they should see a veterinarian right away.
- Lethargy: A sudden change from an active state to continual sleepiness, inactivity, or sustained unresponsiveness could indicate a head injury.
- Balancing or Difficulty Walking: this sign is an indicator of motor functions. Keep an eye out for wobbling, inability to walk in a straight line, or if your dog seems confused.
- Vomiting or Fluid Drainage: If your dog is sick or has fluids draining from the ears or nose, this is a red flag for a head injury.
- Stiff or Weak Limbs: Watch your dog’s limbs for excessive rigidity or weakness.
- A Difference in Pupil Size: A condition called anisocoria exists when pupil sizes are different. If you see this, it could indicate a head injury.
If you see one or a combination of these signs, your pet should be taken to see a vet right away. Even if you didn’t see your dog hurt itself or run into a wall, it’s still recommended to ask for a vet’s advice as these signs can be symptoms of any other illness or injury.
What Should I Do If My Dog Bumps Their Head?
Ask for a veterinarian’s advice, and go for a physical examination if necessary.
Below are a few real-life examples of questions on PetCoach where pet owners had a similar situation and what advice they were given.
Mild Case: “My dog hit his head really hard on the wall but seemed to be fine after the hit. He was running and playing like nothing [happened]. Should I be worried!?”
Answered by Linda G, MS, DVM, Veterinarian: “He will probably be [okay]; however, I would observe him for the next 24 hrs for signs of odd behavior or illness, vomiting. If any of this occurs, he needs to be taken to a veterinarian or emergency room right away.”
Severe Case: “My dog was playing with her sister… after she hit her head, she started to [drool] and [tremble] at the same time.”
Answered by Katie S, Certified Dog Trainer: “I would recommend having her examined. If she got hit hard enough to cause trembles, that is quite a blow. Head injuries can be serious.”
How are Head Injuries Treated at the Veterinary Clinic?
When you arrive, your veterinarian will do an initial examination of your dog. If they’re deemed to be in need of immediate treatment, the veterinarian will have them moved to a treatment room for intravenous pain medication or other drugs.
The veterinarian may also do a neurological examination and look for signs of trauma or brain damage. Depending on the nature of the trauma, the vet may recommend a treatment plan. Most head injuries, even severe ones, can be fully recovered with the proper treatment plan.
How Will My Dog Recover from a Concussion or Head Injury?
After the initial clinic visit, you will want to limit the amount of activity your dog engages in. This means allowing only the necessities, like eating and short walks for bathroom breaks, and letting them rest for the remainder of their time.
It may be a good idea to limit the space they have to move, encouraging them to rest more and recover better. This may mean limiting them to a room or crate. It’s also a good idea to keep them near you so your presence can comfort them while they can recover and to keep an eye on them to ensure they become healthy faster.
In most cases, especially mild concussions, recovery should only be a few days. More severe cases may take longer and may require subsequent trips to the clinic.
Head injuries and dog concussions can be scary to go through the first time with your dog, but if you know how to spot common dog head injury symptoms and know what to do in severe cases, you don’t have to worry. Keep an eye out for any strange behavior, even if it wasn’t mentioned in the common symptoms above.
Observe them for at least 24 hours to determine their health levels. If you are ever concerned about your pet, it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice and keep your pet happy and healthy.
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