- Yelping in pain when petted or stroked on the back
- Unexplained shivering
- A "drunken" rear end, your dog can move their back legs but it looks wobbly and out of control
- Inability to bend down to the food or water dish to eat or drink
- Pulled-in head, arched back, or any other strange position
Causes of Spinal Injury
Trauma to the spine is the most obvious instance of a spinal injury. Trauma injuries can range from abuse, car accidents, dog bites, and injuries while playing.
IVDD or Intervertebral Disk Disease is the compression of the spinal cord due to the degeneration and protrusion of the intervertebral disks. The intervertebral disks are the cushions between the vertebrae that allow movement, are supportive, and act as shock absorbers. When these cushions break down it makes the vertebrae much more likely to herniate causing pain and leading to paralysis.
Blocked Blood Supply
A stroke-like event can cause sudden paralysis in your canine. Fibrocartilaginous Embolism or FCE is when a blockage is created by a piece of fibrous tissue from inside the dog's vertebral disk.
Fibrocartilaginous embolism is another blockage-based condition. A blood vessel in the spine becomes blocked it causes a stroke-like embolism. This often happens suddenly during exercise. After the first attack, dogs usually experience painless paralysis in the back legs or other parts of the body.
Treating Spinal Paralysis
Depending on the condition of the spine and the severity of the injury there are a number of different treatments. Surgery is a very common first step in the treatment process. But surgical intervention is only a baby step towards healing, post-op care will involve lots of crate rest and of physical therapy. Physical therapy could include stretches and moderate exercise with a back brace as well as hydrotherapy and laser therapy.
If your dog is unable to walk again on its own, this isn't a cause for despair. Your pup can live a full and happy life while paralyzed. Consult your dog's veterinarian about the use of a dog wheelchair! A doggy wheelchair will allow your paralyzed pet to have some independence and run and play with you and their doggy friends.