Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability worldwide. There are at least 795,000 new or recurrent strokes each year, and approximately 85% of all stroke occurrences are ischemic. Unfortunately, companion animals are also at risk for ischemic stroke. Although the exact incidence of ischemic stroke in companion animals is unknown, some studies, and the veterinary information network (VIN), report that approximately 3% of neurological case referrals are due to a stroke. There is a long list of predisposing factors associated with the risk of ischemic stroke in both humans and canines; however, these factors do not explain why a stroke happens at a particular time on a particular day. Our understanding of these potential stroke “triggers” is limited, and the effect of transient environmental exposures may be one such “trigger”. The present study investigated the extent to which the natural occurrence of canine ischemic stroke was related to the weather conditions in the time-period immediately preceding the onset of stroke. The results of the present study demonstrated that the change in weather conditions could be a potential stroke trigger, with the strokes evaluated occurring after periods of rapid, large fluctuations in weather conditions. There are currently no epidemiological data on the seasonal variability of ischemic stroke in dogs, and determining whether canine stroke parallels human stroke would further validate the use of companion dogs as an appropriate naturally occurring model.
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