Posted on Leave a comment

What is Cauda Equina Syndrome in Dogs?

    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
    Scroll to Top

    What is Cauda Equina Syndrome in Dogs?

    Photo Credit:

    Cauda Equina Syndrome, or lumbosacral stenosis, refers to the slowly progressing disease as the calcification of the dog’s spine increases with age. The disease is essentially a severe and painful form of arthritis in the joint at the bottom of the spine. As the disease progresses, the spinal canal gets narrower and compresses the nerves in the surrounding area. This causes extreme pain for the dog especially while walking or wagging the tail. In many cases, the disc located between the sacrum and the vertebra may be deformed which causes even further compression on the nerves. Once the nerves have been completely compressed, the dog will not be able to use the back legs or control bladder and bowel movements. 

    What Causes Cauda Equina Syndrome in Dogs?

    There are a number of causes behind Cauda Equina Syndrome in dogs. There are two forms of the disease – Congenital and Acquired. 

    Congenital Cauda Equina Syndrome refers to when the dog is born with the disease due to structural issues from birth such as spina bifida or hemivertebrae. 

    Acquired Cauda Equina Syndrome means that the dog acquires the disease and is caused by an event such as injury, infection, or tumor. This can include fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae in the region, herniated disc of the last intervertebral disc, and tumors in the bones or nerves. A herniated disc is the most common cause of the disease when presented in the acquired form.                                                                       

    Who’s At Risk of Developing Cauda Equina Syndrome?

    Large breeds such as the German Shepherd and Great Dane are more prone to developing the disease. Dogs with long spinal cords like the Beagle and Dachshund are also among the most susceptible to developing Cauda Equina Syndrome. Additionally, the disease has been observed to occur more frequently in dogs with previous hip dysplasia or patella luxation.       

    What are the Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome?

    Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome usually are not observed until further into the progression of the disease. Typically, these symptoms are seen between the age of three to seven years old. The most evident sign of the disease is pain in the dog’s rear legs, tail, and back. Other symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome include: 

    • Difficulty getting up 
    • Poor coordination 
    • Changes in posture 
    • Unable to climb upstairs 
    • Weakness in rear legs and muscle loss 
    • Incontinence or trouble urinating and defecating
    • Unable or unwilling to move tail 
    • Chewing on rear legs and tail 

    How Can Cauda Equina Syndrome In Dogs Be Prevented?

    While it’s impossible to prevent most causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome, you can reduce the risk of a herniated disc, which is a common cause of the disease. For higher-risk breeds, limit high-impact activities, jumping on and off furniture, and maintain a healthy weight in your dog. 

    How is Cauda Equina Syndrome Diagnosed?

    Cauda Equina Syndrome is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic a number of other conditions such as hip dysplasia, prostate disease, and spinal tumors. A proper and definitive diagnosis requires a thorough physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging. During the physical examination, your veterinarian will most likely confirm that your dog has pain present in their lower back, tail, and hind legs. Following this, radiographs will be performed to confirm spinal degeneration. However, degeneration is common in other diseases, so an epidurogram and myelogram will be performed to properly diagnose. Both of these tests use a contrast dye in combination with radiographs and CT scans to get a more detailed view of the spinal cord. 

    What is the Treatment for Cauda Equina Syndrome?

    There are a number of treatments for dogs with Cauda Equina Syndrome. Both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options are available depending upon your dog’s needs. 

    Nonsurgical treatment is often used in more mild cases. Corticosteroids or NSAIDs are often prescribed first to relieve inflammation and pain. Cortisone injections are one route to go for immediate relief. Your veterinarian will likely recommend cage rest for up to two months while continuing to keep your dog exercising daily in order to not lose muscle mass. As the symptoms and condition worsen, further treatment is typically necessary. 

    For dogs with more severe cases of the disease, a  few surgical options may be viable. Decompression or a dorsal laminectomy is the most commonly performed and is the surgical removal of the degenerated disc itself. For this procedure, an incision is made at the top of the spinal cord and is used to remove the bone and sometimes ligaments that are pressing on the nerves. Following this, fusion is done to strengthen the spinal cord and stop the compression. Depending upon the specific instance, this is done by either using bone from another part of the dog’s body or a metal plate. 

    Many dogs will be able to manage the condition with nonsurgical treatment initially and not require surgery for several more years.

    Posted on Leave a comment

    What is Chiropractic Care for Dogs?

      Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
      Scroll to Top

      What is Chiropractic Care?

      Photo Credit: Ontario Chiropractic Association

      Chiropractic care therapy for dogs is an alternative treatment that has received considerable support in traditional medicine during the last few decades. Chiropractic refers to the technique of manipulating the spine to heal disease and is derived from the Greek terms “cheir” which means “hand” and “praxis” which means “practice” or “done by.” The links between numerous bodily components and the nervous system via the spinal column, as well as the function of the spine in biomechanics and movement, are central to chiropractors’ illness hypotheses. The spine is targeted for treatment in an attempt to slow the course of the illness.  

      Veterinary practitioners are now investigating the therapeutic potential of this way of manipulating and placing the spinal column in the treatment of a variety of illnesses. Chiropractic therapy is often reserved for post-surgery care and to supplement other treatment options for a variety of ailments and disorders.

      How Does Chiropractic Care Work?

      Chiropractic treatment for dogs consists of spinal manipulation or manual therapy to correct misaligned vertebrae in the spine (also known as vertebral subluxations) and alleviate pressure on the nerve tissue around them. As a result, pain is reduced and the body is given the opportunity to heal naturally.

      For animals with spinal anomalies or biomechanical musculoskeletal disorders, chiropractic is often utilized as a complement to conventional therapies. These injuries and disorders may quickly deteriorate your pet’s health, restricting movement, posture, and flexibility, as well as impacting other muscles and joints.

      What Does Chiropractic Care Treat in Dogs?

      Photo Credit: Pet Medical Center

      Chiropractic manipulation can aid in the treatment of neurologic and biomechanical disorders.  These conditions include degenerative joint diseases like hip dysplasia and spondylosis, cervical instability, acute neck pain, intervertebral disk disease, autonomic nervous system issues like urinary and fecal incontinence, musculoskeletal weakness, or pain that defies conventional diagnosis and treatment, and chronic back and neck pain. It may also be used to prevent disease, maintain fitness or improve performance.

      Is Chiropractic Care Safe?

      While seeing a canine chiropractor for your pet’s back condition might be beneficial, there are certain hazards that owners should be aware of. The first is that there is continuous disagreement in the medical world over whether chiropractic therapy is genuinely beneficial; while the technique has grown in popularity in recent decades, some business owners may prefer to use more traditional approaches. Second, there’s a chance that chiropractic manipulation of the spine will worsen rather than alleviate an issue. As a result, it is critical that business owners conduct thorough research before selecting a chiropractor to ensure that the one they select will provide the highest quality care.

      Is Chiropractic Care Effective?

      While there is considerable controversy about the validity of chiropractic therapy as a medical treatment in both humans and animals, there is a substantial amount of research to back up proponents’ assertions that it is an effective technique to treat spinal disorders. It’s also worth remembering that the treatment is typically delivered in the form of long-term therapy delivered over a number of sessions, so although some patients may see instant results, others may need more time. Treatment of the disease or injury with analgesics or conventional physiotherapy are two alternatives to chiropractic therapy.

      What Happens During a Chiropractic Session?

      When a dog is taken to a chiropractic clinic or rehab facility, the chirpporactor will usually ask the owner about the dog’s health and history. They will usually asking more questions about the dog’s lifestytyle and any other problems the dog is presenting. Then, the dog will be treated a chiropractic adjustment using direct pressure. This usually lasts about 15-30 minutes.

      How to Find a Canine Chiropractor?

      You usually need a referral from your primary veterinarian to a chiropractor. In order to comprehend the biomechanics and neuromusculoskeletal function differences between humans and animals, chiropractors who work with animals must be well-versed in both chiropractic theory and animal anatomy. In North America, a certification process exists to ensure that practitioners have the appropriate knowledge and experience to treat animals.The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association is responsible for this certification, and its members are classified as “Animal Chiropractor,” “Veterinarian Certified in Animal Chiropractic,” or “Veterinary Chiropractor,” depending on their level of training. Certified Animal Chiropractors may be allowed to administer treatments without supervision in some North American jurisdictions; in other jurisdictions, chiropractors must be supervised by licensed veterinarians.

      How Much Does Chiropractic Care Cost for Dogs?

      The cost of chiropractic therapy varies greatly based on where you live and the age, health, and behavioral disposition of the dog in question. The majority of owners, however, may expect to pay between $50 and $200 per session for chiropractic therapy. This is similar to traditional physiotherapy, albeit some types of physiotherapy might be significantly more expensive if specialist equipment is necessary.

      Posted on Leave a comment

      Invertible Disc Disease (IVDD) in Dogs

        Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
        Scroll to Top

        Intervertebral disc disease or IVDD is a painful degenerative disorder that affects some dog breeds more than others as they become older.

        What is IVDD in Dogs?

        Photo Credit: Alpha Paws

        IVDD in dogs is a fairly common spinal condition in dogs that occurs as a result of the herniation of an intervertebral disc. Dogs have a gelatinous material with a thick outer coating that can be discovered between the bones and spine. This material makes up intervertebral discs and acts as a stress absorber for the spine. If this disc herniates, it can cause concussion or compression of the spinal cord, resulting in long-term and devastating consequences and pain. IVDD is divided into two types: 

        Type 1

        Hansen type-I disc disease is most prevalent in small breed dogs over the age of two, although it can also affect larger breeds. The onset is fairly acute with a variety of clinical signs which contribute to the prognosis as well as how long the signs last. Clinical signs include a range from severe pain in the neck and back to paralysis. The inner contents of the intervertebral disc are more conveniently identified as an “extrusion” or “herniation” in Hansen type-I intervertebral disc disease. That arrangement of the intervertebral disk is similar to that of a jam doughnut where the “jam” (nucleus pulposus) becomes hard and isn’t compressive anymore.

        Type 2

        Hansen type-ll is more comparable to disc disease in humans while also occurring in non-chondrodystrophic dogs. Instead of an excursion like in type-l where the “jam” explodes outwards, the annulus, which is the outer part of the disc, bulges and protrudes. Signs onset fairly acutely but can also develop progressively over time. Clinical signs include not wanting to exercise/go for walks, reluctance to jump or walk upstairs, or have a hunched back or look stiff. Treatment varies on the severity. While a disc can bulge or herniate anywhere along the spinal column, the thoracolumbar (midback) region accounts for 65 percent of recorded disc ruptures, while the cervical (neck) region accounts for 18 percent.

        What Causes IVDD?

        Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a progressive, age-related degenerative condition that damages the dog’s spinal cord over time.

        The shock-absorbing discs between your dog’s vertebrae eventually harden until they can no longer cushion the vertebrae properly, resulting in IVDD. The stiffened discs often bulge and compress the spinal cord, disrupting the dog’s nerve signals that govern bladder and bowel control in many cases.

        In other circumstances, a simple leap or a bad landing can cause one or more of the hardened discs to rupture and push against the dog’s spinal nerves, causing discomfort, nerve damage, or even paralysis.

        What Dogs Are at Risk for Developing IVDD?

        Photo Credit: @morusthecorgi

        While this is a disease that often occurs in older dogs, certain breeds are more at risk for developing IVDD at a younger age including chondrodystrophic dogs and crosses of those breeds. The following breeds are predisposed to IVDD:

        • Dachshund (45-70% of IVDD cases)
        • Shih Tzu
        • Beagle
        • Corgi
        • French bulldog
        • Pekingese
        • Lhasa Apso
        • Doberman pinscher
        • Cocker spaniel
        • Basset hound
        • Poodle
        • Chihuahua
        • Labrador retriever
        • German shepherd

        What are the Symptoms of IVDD in Dogs?

        dog presenting signs of IVDD
        Photo Credit: Southeast Veterinary Neurology

        Intervertebral Disc Disease can affect any of your dog’s discs, with different symptoms depending on which part of the spine is damaged and how severe the damage is. IVDD symptoms can appear suddenly or gradually. If your dog displays any of the symptoms indicated below, get medical attention as soon as possible. IVDD in dogs may be very painful, so it’s vital to get treatment as soon as possible to avoid the disease escalating or causing permanent damage to your dog’s spine. Symptoms may differ depending on the location of the damaged disc.

        Neck Intervertebral Disc Disease Symptoms (Cervical IVDD)

        The discs in the dog’s neck are affected by cervical IVDD. If you notice any of the following symptoms, which can affect the entire body and range from mild to severe, call your veterinarian immediately for advice or seek care at the local animal emergency hospital:

        • Holding head low
        • Arched back
        • Shivering and or crying
        • Unable or reluctance to move
        • Unsteadiness in all 4 legs
        • Unable to support own weight
        • Unable to feel all 4 feet and legs
        • Paw knuckling
        • Unable to walk normal/unsteady gait

        Lower-Back Intervertebral Disc Disease Symptoms (Lumbosacral IVDD)

        If your dog has lumbosacral IVDD, the troublesome disc or discs are in the lower back area of your dog. The symptoms of lumbosacral IVDD usually affect the dog’s rear end and can range from moderate to severe:

        • Pain and/or difficulty jumping
        • Limp tail
        • Urinary or fecal incontinence
        • Dilated anus

        Back Intervertebral Disc Disease Symptoms (Thoracolumbar IVDD)

        Dogs with Thoracolumbar IVDD have a damaged disc in their back that causes issues, and they may exhibit one or more of the symptoms listed below. Thoracolumbar IVDD symptoms mostly affect the mid-to-back section of the dog’s body, and they can range from mild to severe:

        • Muscle spasms
        • Tense belly 
        • Weakness in hind legs
        • Crossing back legs when walking
        • Inability to walk normally
        • Knuckling of back paws, or dragging rear legs
        • Inability to support their own weight
        • Unable to move or feel back legs

        How is IVDD Diagnosed?

        french bulldog getting a cat scan
        Photo Credit: Animal Surgical and Orthopedic Center

        When it comes to breeds that are commonly predisposed to IVDD, your vet may be able to tell if your dog’s unusual behavior and pain is IVDD. X-rays are a generally inaccurate diagnostic method for disc herniation. If IVDD is suspected of causing discomfort or other problems, an x-ray of the dog’s spine is not recommended. If clinical grading is required, a veterinary examination is used instead of imaging data. Additional diagnostic tests aren’t necessary in many cases.


        An MRI is very beneficial for dogs who are about to undergo spine surgery as it’s an excellent method for confirming IVDD diagnosis and planning surgery. Keep in mind that while an MRI scan can determine the specific site of a spinal problem, it does not always offer reliable information about the dog’s chances of recovery or whether surgery is necessary. The dog’s clinical examination findings (or clinical IVDD grade) are more helpful in this case. Although, MRI’s are not always accessible due to the cost if the dog can undergo anesthesia and not every facility has an MRI machine. If an MRI is not accessible, myelography or a CT scan may be performed instead of an MRI before surgery. But Advanced imaging like an MRI may be a good idea early in the course of the disease in specific dog breeds presenting with particular clinical symptoms to help rule out spinal tumors, infection, and other disorders.

        What is the Treatment for IVDD?

        There are different options for the treatment of IVDD in dogs usually dependent on the severity and where they are in the development.

        Anti-Inflammatory Medications and Rest

        Mild to moderate IVDD injuries may be able to be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and steroids to help reduce pain and swelling combined with strictly reduced activity for about 4 to 6 weeks, usually in the form of crate rest. If your dog has lost their ability to walk, they will need emergency surgery.

        french bulldog on crate rest for IVDD
        Photo Credit: @tegan_the_frenchie
        Photo Credit: @the_real_sausages_of_melbourne


        Surgery is often the most recommended treatment for more severe cases of IVDD. Surgery usually involves removing the hardened disc material that is pressing on the spinal cord and causing IVDD and pain. There are multiple types of surgery for IVDD including hemilaminectomy, laminectomy, fenestration, and ventral slot. This is usually ideal in cases in which the dog hasn’t lost their ability to walk but can be done either way. Recovery takes about 6-8 weeks with extremely restricted activity. Even with surgery, it is recommended for dogs to use wheelchairs in order for them to have an increased quality of life.

        Physical Therapy

        Physical therapy is usually recommended for dogs post-IVDD surgery so they can start regaining their muscle strength and move comfortably again. Physical rehabilitation has several advantages, not only in the treatment of IVDD including strength, balance, mobility, weight-bearing, gait retraining, and proprioception enhancement. There are multiple physical therapy treatments that may be done including laser therapy, shockwave therapy, hydrotherapy, balance discs, wobble boards, exercises, and manual therapy. 

        corgi getting laser therapy for ivddcorgi getting laser therapy for ivdd
        Photo Credit: @holisticvetnurse

        What is the Prognosis of IVDD in Dogs?

        There is an excellent prognosis for dogs with IVDD with the exception of the most severe cases. Early diagnosis is key in having the best prognosis possible as it can lower the chance of needing surgery, the risk of surgery, and the expenses.

        ivdd pinterest pins