Can dogs get a head concussion like humans do? There are really no home remedies for severe head trauma in dogs, if your dog sustained severe head trauma, please see your vet at once! There are a few things though you can do at home for mild cases such as when your dog hits his head against a coffee table and develops a little bump on his head. In this article, we will look at signs of head concussions in dogs and what you can do for those minor bumps that may pop on your dog’s head.
When it comes to dog skulls, dogs are quite hard-headed creatures. When your dog bumps his head against the coffee table of bed, he might just shake his head once or twice and then life goes back to normal, as if nothing ever happened.
In these cases, dogs must thank their heavy temporal musculature and thick skull, which makes them less likely to develop traumatic brain injuries compared to cats, explains veterinarian Michael Schaer, in the book “Clinical Medicine of the Dog and Cat, Second Edition.”
While a small bump against the table or chair may not cause any major complications other than an innocent bump, in some cases though it’s important to recognize signs of trouble so to see the vet at once.
“In my 16 yrs of practice, I have never met even one dog or cat who did serious damage to themselves by hitting a table of chair or other object. Fortunately, the skull is very strong, and the worst I have ever seen has been a tender bump for 1 – 2 days.” Dr. Fiona
What to Watch For
In many cases, it takes much more than hitting the head against a table for a dog to develop worrisome symptoms suggesting a serious head trauma. Most worrisome incidents involve head trauma deriving from a car accident, being kicked by a horse, or a blow to the head from something like a baseball bat. Signs of trouble suggesting a serious concussion includes: loss of consciousnesses, lethargy, less interest in surroundings, pupils of unequal size, tilted head, abnormal eye movements, changes in breathing pattern and blood loss from the ear canal or nose. Seizures may also arise after a blow to the head. According to a study, dogs who sustained a severe head trauma were found to have a higher incidence for developing seizures, especially in the immediate or early post-traumatic period. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, please see your vet at once.
“You’d be surprised how much force it takes to really cause head trauma in a dog. Just hitting her head on a coffee table may cause a bit of a bump and some pain but I would not worry about any brain trauma. Worst case scenario that there is head trauma, these are the signs you’d look for- different size pupils, difficulty walking, muscle tremors, seizures. If you notice any of those, then she should be seen right away.” ~Dr. Gary
Use a Flashlight
Since one of the signs of brain injury involves the eyes, it can be helpful to check them out. Serious blows can can cause injury to the dog’s optic nerve, interfering with the pupil’s (black portion of the eye) ability to dilate. By looking at the dog’s pupils carefully, once can check if they are of the same size. Pupils that are unequal are a warning sign of trouble and a vet should be sought at once. A test to see whether the pupils are working properly is getting a flashlight and shining its bright light into the dog’s eyes about 1 or 2 inches away, suggests veterinarian Dr. Fiona. This is best done in a dark room, after a minute or so of staying in the dark. It is best to check each eye separately and to wait about 10 seconds between checking each eye, suggests Vetmom4, a veterinarian with 28 years as practice owner. Normally, the pupils should decrease in size upon detecting the light flashing. If the pupils don’t react by shrinking, a vet should be consulted at once.
Pass the Peas Please
For minor head injuries limited to just a bump on the head and no worrisome accompanying symptoms, dog owners can help the bump on the head heal and shrink faster. Generally, the bump tends to go down within 48 hours, but dog owners can try a home remedy to expedite the healing process. Simply, grab a bag of frozen peas and place it on the swelling, suggests veterinarian Dr. Christian.
Don’t Hesitate to See The Vet
The above tips may be fine for mild cases, where the dog just bumps his head and then is back to normal in no time, but serious cases such as car accidents or serious blows to head warrant an immediate trip to the veterinary emergency center. The reason being that not always are the signs of a traumatic injury obvious. Unfortunately, brain swelling and bleeding can occur even hours after the accident, so it’s always best to see the vet if in any doubt. Upon seeing the dog, the vet will perform a neurological exam and evaluate signs of potential damage such as loss of balance, abnormal looking eyes and altered levels of alertness. X-rays or a CT scan can reveal any fractures or signs of brain injury. There are no home remedies for serious head trauma in dogs as treatment consists of supportive care, intravenous fluids, providing pain relievers and giving the dog important medications which aim to decrease the swelling of the brain (mannitol).
“Head injuries can worsen significantly over the first 24-48 hours after the accident as swelling and bleeding increase within the cranium.”~ Dr. Laura Devlin
*Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your dog has a concussion or some other type of head trauma, please see your vet immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.