Stroke symptoms in dogs are different than in humans, so the signs may cause some initial confusion. It is likely that a dog has had a mini-stroke or stroke if it displays any or all of the following symptoms: sudden fatigue, unresponsiveness, inability to move, lack of control of its bladder or bowels, lack of balance, tilted head, impaired vision or complete blindness, or any measure of paralysis.
Facial paralysis along with drooping eyelids is one of the most easily recognizable symptoms of a stroke in human beings, but dogs may experience paralysis of other parts of their bodies. Some dogs who have suffered mini-strokes will walk in circles continuously, not due to paralysis but simply due to disorientation.
Strokes in dogs have two different causes: cerebrovascular accident, otherwise known as a brain aneurysm, and transient ischemic attack, which is caused by a blockage in the brain. Dogs with heart disease are particularly susceptible to the latter. In the absence of either of these issues, a veterinarian may run tests to see if the dog has an underlying condition such as a brain tumor or severe concussion.
Strokes are not necessarily a medical emergency, even in elderly dogs. With proper veterinary care, many dogs recover quickly and return to normal within a few days. If a disease or imbalance of some sort was to blame for the stroke, treatment usually takes care of the problem. Dogs have a much higher stroke recovery rate than humans.