Nervous System Disorders in Dogs: Spinal Problems in Dogs
Dogs do Some of the Darnedest Things!
What Makes up the Dog Nervous System
The delicate design of the canine nervous system—brain, spinal cord, sensory and motor nerves that communicate with the rest of the dogs body—can encounter disease, disorders, and damage from a number of events and conditions. The canine armor we call the skeletal structure, is a dutiful element that protects the brain and spinal cord of the beast from damage. However, some incidents like vehicle impact, falls, bites, and other trauma inducing events can bring real traumatic injury. Since the brain and spinal cord are limited in just how much they can repair themselves, the results of disease or injury can be truly devastating on the dog, as well as the humans who love him.
Signs of Nervous System Disorders in Dogs
Nervous System Disorders can be minimal as well as wide reaching depending on the location and the cause of the problem. Here are 4 conditions that are among the most common surrounding the topic:
4 Common Nervous System Conditions in Dogs
- Behavior issues
Today we will be taking a deeper look at some of the causes for these conditions and what you, a dog owner, should be on the constant lookout for.
Seizures in Dogs
When a temporary disturbance occurs in the electrical activity of the brain, convulsions or seizures are the result. A seizure can be caused by infectious diseases (like distemper and rabies); kidney and liver disease (poor filtration of the body); metabolic disorders (like blood sugar or calcium malfunctions); toxins (like anti-freeze or lead); brain trauma (a strike to the head); and brain tumors (boxers and Boston terriers most notably).
Canine Seizure's that last 5 minutes or more must be seen by a veterinarian immediately; you will need to take the dog in for a check up for seizures of shorter than 5 minutes, just not in an emergency status.
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Radial Nerve Paralysis in Dogs
When a dog has been afflicted with Radial Nerve Paralysis, there is little doubt he has an injury. This disorder prevents the movement and support of the front legs. Bruising or fracture of the Humerus—upper bone in the leg—is generally the cause. Because he can't extend his elbow, the dog is unable to support his weight, or can only support a limited amount of weight on the leg, or he may simply drag the limb when walking. If the nerve has been severed during the injury, there is no likelihood the injury will heal, and the leg will require amputation. (The good news is, most dogs function really well on three legs.) In most cases therapy and steroids are administered to treat the condition. Only time can determine how functional the leg will end up. Keeping the paw wrapped in protective bandages is very important during this time, abrasion infections would only serve to compound the healing process.
You and Your Dog
Have you ever had a dog with a Spinal Disorder?
Intervertebral Disc Protrusion
Intervertebral Disc Protrusion in Dogs
This condition causes pain to your dog's neck and back. Intervertebral Discs—a thick jelly-like substance found between the bones in the back and neck—are considered the shock absorbers for the spinal cord. When this substance gets squeezed or protrudes into the area where the spinal cord or spinal nerves reside, the dog will hesitate to move and may hold its head stiffly in one position. The dog might also avoid being touched or petted around the head and neck. The dog will often hold up one of its front legs, this is because the disc is pressing on the nerves to that leg, and lifting helps relieve the pressure. A dog with this disc protrusion in the back may present itself in a stiff arched-back stance, moving as little as possible, with a loss of bowel and urine control. If neglected or left untreated this can lead to weakness and then paralysis in the dog's hind quarters. Beagles, Pekingese, dachshunds, French bulldogs, miniature poodles, and cocker spaniels seem to be among those breeds that suffer from this disc protrusion more than others.
Ask your vet how to prevent this disorder in your dog, but jumping off of high furniture has been attributed as a cause for the disorder in the breeds listed above.
Behavior Issues in Dogs
As in any species, when the pain of an injury is involved a personality or behavioral change can take place. This is no different in our canine companions. If you notice a change in temperament, activity, feeding or drinking, your pet may be encountering pain or nervous system problems. It is always suggested that an animal receive a well-check check up when this type of situation becomes apparent. This provides treatment for less apparent or hidden problems in your dog. It can also prevent an unsafe situation from happening to you or your family. We all can get a little grumpy when we don't feel well or are experiencing pain. Your dog is no different, except that he has some pretty sharp teeth for expressing these things. So, keep your relationship with your dog healthy and safe for both of you by being aware of unspoken, silent signs of health issues and nervous system conditions.
Your Dogs Nervous System
Always confer with your vet when injury or ailment attacks your dog. Only he/she knows your dog's personal health needs. Nervous system conditions are not to be neglected or written-off as something that will take care of themselves. These injuries require treatment and the knowledge of experts. As with people, dogs may encounter many obstacles during their lifetime, being there for them during crisis is part of the relationship; an unspoken oath even. Managing your skills of observation around your dog's health can be the key to a long and healthy life with your K9 best friend.