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If your pet suffers a head injury or exhibits unusual behaviors, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. We are not veterinarians, and the following article is not meant to be prescriptive or construed as medical advice.

It’s all fun and games watching your dog run around and play. Until they crash into something (or someone!) and start seeing stars. While they might hop back up and shake it off, your dog can get concussed and experience a head injury just like a human.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a common form of head trauma caused by a significant hit to the head. This can occur with or without a loss of consciousness and causes temporary cognitive delays.

How can dogs get concussed?

Just like humans, dogs can get concussed after experiencing a blow to their heads. But since dogs can’t communicate with words, it’s harder to detect signs of a concussion in our pets. 

Some causes of a canine concussion include:

Car Accidents

Motor vehicles are the most frequent cause of injuries in dogs. Whether riding in a vehicle during an accident or being struck on a roadway, cars can cause head trauma in dogs, broken bones, internal bleeding, and secondary injuries.

Falls and Collisions

Dogs can get concussed from falls and crashes, too. Blunt injuries happen when a dog experiences a sudden fall from a porch or deck, crashes into a tree or solid object, and finds itself on the wrong end of a frightened animal that kicks, like a horse or donkey. 

Toy breeds and small dogs can get concussed if they are dropped while being held. They also run a higher risk of concussion while roughhousing, especially while playing with larger dogs.

What to Do if Your Dog Experiences a Head Injury

Signs of a concussion are hard to gauge in animals, especially since we can’t ask them what their name is or where they live. So instead, we must look for tangible symptoms to determine if they need medical attention.

Most importantly, if your dog loses consciousness, they need to see a veterinarian immediately. 

If they haven’t lost consciousness, here are other signs of a concussion to look for:

  • Clumsy walking 
  • Problems balancing
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Different sized pupils
  • Sedated behavior

PetMD is also a great resource when your dog suffers from any injury. 

Preventing Head Injuries in Dogs

As pet owners, we can’t control every move our animals make. But we can try to make their environments as safe as possible. 

You can prevent injuries by keeping your dog away from busy roadways. Always check for hazardous conditions in areas where they are free to walk, run, and play. This means checking for loose boards on decks and porches. And while we don’t expect you to strap cushioned mats to every tree in your yard, you should monitor your dog while playing with other animals to avoid crashes and head injuries. 

Another way to prevent your dog from getting hurt is to know what to do if you ever cross paths with an aggressive dog. Having an escape plan and learning how to safely remove your animal from an attack before experiencing one can prevent serious injuries to everyone involved. 

Knowing dogs can get concussed is just one step in responsible pet ownership. At Ruffly Speaking, we talk about pet safety and injury prevention in an online community exclusively for pet parents

Founded by world-renowned The Dog Gurus, Ruffly Speaking is a membership community that offers real-time training exercises, insider information on the latest dog products and food, and access to some of the most experienced dog trainers and pet professionals around. We’d love to see you inside!


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Robin Bennett is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, author, speaker, and expert on dogs. She founded one of the largest dog training companies in Virginia and for the last 30 years has been using her expertise in "reading dogs" to teach families how to train their pets as well as helping others in the pet care industry keep dogs safe.

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