Spinal Cord Disease and Spine Injuries in Dogs

Disorders and diseases of the spine and spinal column in dogs include many conditions such as degenerative, congenital or birth defects, tumors and cancer, infectious and inflammatory diseases, injury, trauma, and vascular diseases. Spinal Cord Disease and Spine Injuries in Dogs have many causes.

There are many different types of degenerative spine diseases in dogs such as stenosis of the vertebrae in the lower spine, which causes compression of the nerve roots.  Another common degenerative disease is intervertebral disc or disk disease causing herniation, slipped, ruptured or bulging discs.  In either case, diagnosis of either disease process is best done with MRI.

Inflammatory and infectious diseases include bacterial diseases, which may start in some other part of the body or be in the bloodstream.   Tick-borne diseases such as ehrlichiosis can lead to spinal symptoms and swelling.  Viral diseases including canine distemper or rabies, causes neurological symptoms and is best prevented with vaccines.  There are also fungal and protozoal diseases which affect the central nervous system and cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.  Parasites can also attack and inflame the spinal cord causing weakness, pain, and paralysis.

Tumors and cancer affect the spinal column in dogs and can affect the spinal bones, the coverings of the nerves, the connective tissue and can also be metastatic or spread from other cancers in the body.  MRI is indicated for surgical planning and initial diagnosis.

Spine injuries in dogs from trauma are a result of a spinal fracture or dislocation and a common cause in dogs is automobile accidents. The signs of the injury can be sudden and may cause paralysis or partial paralysis.  MRI is indicated to determine the extent of the spinal injury in the dog and for surgical planning.

Poisoning and toxic disorders can be seen after ingestion or skin contact with some insecticides or pesticides and can affect the spinal column with paralysis. Tetanus is also caused by toxins, which enter the dog at a wound site.  Keeping the dog up-to-date on tetanus boosters will prevent tetanus.

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