Signs of Head Trauma in Dogs

By Naomi Millburn

Motor vehicle accidents are responsible for most cases of head trauma in canines. Other examples of common causes are colliding with objects, fights with other animals, penetrating wounds from bites or gunshots and falling from stairs or tall buildings. Dogs can sometimes experience head trauma by being stepped on, as well.

Skull Fractures

Skull fractures are possible results of head trauma in dogs. If a dog suffers an injury from impact with a moving auto or a fall to the ground from a high location, he could fracture the bones of his skull. Indications of skull fracture in dogs include:

Less Common in Dogs Than in People

Head trauma is more rare in dogs than in people. This is largely because dogs' skulls are somewhat thicker than the skulls of human beings and covered by more muscle. Because of this, intense injury is usually required to bring on serious brain trauma.

Skull Fractures and Head Trauma

Skull fractures are possible results of head trauma in dogs. If a dog suffers an injury from impact with a moving auto or a fall to the ground from a high location, he could fracture the bones of his skull. Indications of skull fracture in dogs include:

  • Coma
  • Blindness
  • Changes in behavior
  • Seizures
  • Circling or tilting of the head
  • Loss of coordination

Broken Mandibles and Head Trauma

Head trauma can lead to broken mandibles in dogs. If a dog fractures his lower jaw, he could exhibit symptoms such as:

  • Problems shutting his mouth
  • Salivation
  • Pain during eating

Signs of Head Trauma in General

Potential signs of head trauma in general in dogs are:

  • Tilting of the head
  • Unusual posture
  • Pupil size discrepancies
  • Abnormal eye movement
  • Stiffness or slackness of the limbs
  • Unusual degrees of consciousness
  • Bleeding of the ear canals or nostrils
  • Seizures

Signs of head trauma in dogs are not always apparent to owners. If your dog injures his head, don't assume that he's OK just because he's not displaying any clear symptoms at the moment. Some dogs develop internal bleeding such as intracranial hemorrhaging due to head trauma. If that's the case, a veterinarian can determine exactly what's going on and treat the issue accordingly.