Can Dogs Get Concussions

icon May 25, 2024

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function. While concussions are commonly associated with humans, dogs are also susceptible to this type of injury. Understanding how concussions affect dogs, recognizing the symptoms, and knowing how to respond can make a significant difference in the outcome for your pet.

Can Dogs Get Concussions?

Yes, dogs can get concussions. Just like in humans, a concussion in dogs occurs when the brain is shaken within the skull, usually due to a fall, collision, or blow to the head. This shaking can cause brain cells to become damaged and disrupt normal brain function. While the skull provides some protection, the brain is still vulnerable to sudden impacts. Dogs, being active and curious creatures, are prone to accidents that can lead to head injuries.

Can Dogs Get Concussions

Can Puppies Get Concussions?

Puppies are particularly susceptible to concussions due to their playful nature and still-developing bodies. Their smaller size and higher energy levels can increase the risk of falls and collisions. Concussions in puppies can be more dangerous because their brains are still developing. It is essential to provide a safe environment and supervise playtime to minimize the risk of head injuries.

Dog Concussion Symptoms

Recognizing concussion symptoms in dogs is crucial for timely intervention. Common symptoms of a concussion in dogs include:

1. Disorientation and confusion:
Your dog may appear confused, have trouble standing or walking straight, and might bump into objects.

2. Lethargy:
A noticeable decrease in energy levels or reluctance to move.

3. Balance and coordination issues:
Difficulty walking, stumbling, or swaying.

4. Nausea and vomiting:
Your dog may vomit or show signs of nausea.

5. Changes in behavior:
Increased irritability, unusual aggression, or withdrawal from social interactions.

6. Eyes:
Unequal pupil sizes (anisocoria), rapid eye movements (nystagmus), or difficulty focusing.

7. Seizures:
In severe cases, a dog may experience seizures.

8. Loss of consciousness:
While not common, it can occur in severe concussions.

My Dog Hit His Head But Seems Fine

If your dog has hit his head but appears to be fine, it is still essential to monitor him closely. Some symptoms of a concussion may not appear immediately and can develop over hours or even days. Here are steps to take if your dog hits his head:

1. Monitor for symptoms:
Keep a close watch on your dog for any signs of disorientation, lethargy, or other symptoms listed above.

2. Limit activity:
Prevent your dog from engaging in strenuous activities that could exacerbate any potential injury.

3. Contact your vet:
It's always a good idea to consult your veterinarian even if your dog seems fine initially. They can provide advice on what to watch for and whether an examination is necessary.

How to Treat a Dog Concussion at Home

While veterinary care is crucial for a dog with a suspected concussion, there are steps you can take at home to help your dog recover:

1. Rest and relaxation:
Ensure your dog has a quiet, comfortable space to rest. Limit their movement and prevent them from engaging in vigorous activities.

2. Hydration and nutrition:
Make sure your dog has access to fresh water and a balanced diet. Encourage eating by offering small, frequent meals if they have lost their appetite.

3. Monitor closely:
Keep a close eye on your dog's symptoms. Note any changes and report them to your veterinarian.

4. Avoid medications:
Do not give your dog any medications without consulting your veterinarian. Some human medications can be toxic to dogs.

5. Follow vet’s advice:
Adhere strictly to any instructions or treatment plans provided by your veterinarian.

Dog Concussion Test

Diagnosing a concussion in dogs typically involves a physical examination and observation of symptoms by a veterinarian. There is no single test that can definitively diagnose a concussion, but the process may include:

  • 1. Neurological exam:
    Assessing your dog's reflexes, coordination, and balance.
  • 2. Observation:
    Monitoring behavior and symptoms over time.
  • 3. Imaging tests:
    In some cases, your vet may recommend imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to rule out fractures or other brain injuries.

Mild Concussion in Dogs

A mild concussion in dogs might not exhibit severe symptoms, but it is still important to treat it seriously. Symptoms of a mild concussion may include slight disorientation, temporary loss of coordination, or mild lethargy. Even with mild symptoms, providing rest and monitoring is crucial. Contact your vet for guidance on managing a mild concussion and preventing further injury.

Can a Dog Recover from a Concussion on Its Own?

Many dogs can recover from a mild concussion with proper care and rest. However, recovery depends on the severity of the injury and the care provided. Mild concussions may resolve with a few days of rest, while more severe cases may require weeks or months of recovery and professional treatment. Always consult a veterinarian to ensure your dog receives the appropriate care.

What Does a Vet Do for a Concussion?

When you bring your dog to the vet with a suspected concussion, the veterinarian will typically:

1. Conduct a thorough examination:
This includes checking your dog's neurological function, balance, and coordination.

2. Recommend imaging tests:
If necessary, to rule out fractures or other brain injuries.

3. Provide supportive care:
This might include intravenous fluids, medications to control pain or inflammation, and anti-nausea drugs.

4. Monitor closely:
In severe cases, your dog may need to stay at the veterinary clinic for close monitoring and supportive care.

5. Create a recovery plan:
The vet will give you specific instructions on how to care for your dog at home, including rest, dietary recommendations, and follow-up visits.

What Can Help Heal a Concussion?

Healing from a concussion requires time and supportive care. Here are key elements that can aid in your dog's recovery:

1. Rest:
Ensure your dog has plenty of quiet time to rest and recover.

2. Nutrition:
Provide a balanced diet to support overall health and healing. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil), antioxidants (like vitamins C and E), and amino acids (such as taurine) can support brain health and reduce inflammation.

3. Hydration:
Keep your dog well-hydrated with access to fresh water.

4. Medication:
Follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding any prescribed medications.

5. Follow-up care:
Attend all follow-up appointments to monitor your dog's progress and adjust care as needed.

6. Safe environment:
Create a calm, safe space for your dog to recover, minimizing stress and preventing further injury.


Concussions in dogs are serious injuries that require prompt attention and care. By understanding the symptoms and knowing how to respond, you can help ensure the best possible outcome for your pet. Whether your dog shows immediate signs of injury or seems fine after hitting their head, vigilance and consultation with a veterinarian are crucial. With appropriate care and time, many dogs can recover fully from a concussion, returning to their playful, energetic selves. Always prioritize safety and prevent accidents whenever possible to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

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