Spinal injury typically happens occurs when the spinal cord damages due to trauma, loss of regular blood flow, or compression from either a tumor or a growth of infection in the body.
Commonly encountered spinal injuries in dogs
The most commonly encountered causes of acute spinal cord injury in dogs are: Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), trauma (automobile trauma, gunshots), and infarction (fibrocartilaginous embolism).
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is the most common cause of spinal injury in dogs.
IVDD in dogs is a result of the degenerative joint problem that affects the spaces between the vertebrae that make up the vertebrae column of the dog.
The Chondrodystrophic dogs (dogs with hereditary dwarfism) include the Bassett Hound, Beagle, Bulldog, Corgi, Dachshund, French Bulldog, and Lhasa Apso Pekinese, Poodle, Pug and Shih Tzu breeds are the most susceptible to spinal cord injury. Some non-Chondrodystrophic breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever are also susceptible to spinal cord injury.
Overweight dogs are at a higher risk of herniated discs, which can cause injury to the spinal cord.
Top 10 signs of spinal cord injury in dogs
- Pain or weakness in the rear legs,
- Sensitivity to touch: it is common to hear a dog yelp when you try to pick him up
- Arching of the back,
- Holding its head up in a stiff position
- Muscle spasms of the back or neck
- Reduced activity refusal to get up and play, even for food
- Bowel incontinence or bladder control
- Shivering – especially when combined with unusual inactivities
- Limping of any kind
There are three main dog spinal cord injury treatment options. They are conservative therapy, spinal surgery, or stem cell therapy.
Conservative therapy involves providing the dog with anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxants coupled with lots of rest. Most dogs receiving this therapy are likely to regain functions like walking and control their intestine and bladder movements. However, dogs to take this therapy might still need surgery. Therefore, it is advisable not to delay visiting the vet in favor of conservative treatment if your dog cannot walk.
Spinal surgery, on the other hand, involves decompressing the affected area. All materials such as bone and disc fragments wedged against the spinal cord are removed during the surgery. The earlier the surgery is carried out, the higher that the surgery will be a success. For this reason, dog owners are encouraged to go for this option as soon as they can.
Finally, stem cell therapy involves the use of embryonic stem cells in the treatment of diseased tissues and organs.
The time between the onset of spinal injury in dogs and treatment and the severity of medulla spinal injury contributes to treatment outcomes. Time, rest, and physical restoration all contribute to recovery, and this varies from dog to dog and also according to the severity of the ailment.