SEVERE head trauma is associated with high mortality, with death often resulting from progressive increases in intracranial pressure. Brain injury in dogs and cats is most frequently caused by road traffic accidents, but can also be due to falls, kicks, gunshot wounds and animal bites. Appropriate management of patients with head trauma remains a controversial area in veterinary medicine because of a lack of retrospective studies evaluating treatment approaches for dogs and cats with similar injuries. Notwithstanding, management of affected cases must be immediate if the animal is to recover to a level that is both functional and acceptable to the owner. The first veterinary surgeon to deal with an animal suffering from brain injuries following an inciting traumatic event will dictate that patient's fate! It is important to be aware of the optimal way to assess head trauma cases before making treatment decisions. Many dogs and cats can indeed recover from severe brain injuries if treatable systemic and neurological abnormalities are identified promptly. This article discusses current recommendations for optimising the chances of success for such patients.
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