Let’s know about Spinal stenosis in dogs. Spinal stenosis, and more specifically lumbosacral stenosis, is a painful disease affecting a dog’s spine and can cause urinary, bowel, and walking problems. Knowing what the disease is, how it is diagnosed, and the types of treatment options that exist can help prepare a dog owner in terms of diagnosing the problem.
What is spinal stenosis in dogs?
Spinal stenosis is commonly known as lumbosacral stenosis and is a disease that affects the spinal structures in the lumbar and sacral regions of the spine. The spine is protected by the bony spine in the body and dogs with spinal stenosis have different problems that put pressure on the spinal part and nerves near the hips and tailbone. This results in a variety of problematic symptoms for a dog in the hind end. Spinal stenosis can also occur in the cervical region of the spine but is referred to as Wobbler syndrome and produces different symptoms than lumbosacral stenosis.
signs of spinal stenosis in dogs
- difficulty sitting or lying down.
- difficulty doing stairs.
- pain in hind end.
- weakness in hind end.
- urinary or fecal incontinence.
- Hind paws reveal.
- inability to lift or lift the tail.
Spinal stenosis affects the hindquarters of a dog and symptoms can vary depending on how severe the disease is or how the spinal cord is affected. Most dogs have difficulty using their hind limbs, especially when trying to get up after sitting down or down and when trying to take a step.
General weakness in the hind end can be seen as wandering or stumbling while walking and sometimes the paws will drag and pull on the ground. Some dogs experience severe pain in the hind end due to the nerves being affected and will cry if their hind end is touched. The nerves that are affected can cause a dog with spinal stenosis to lose control of its bladder and bowel so accidents and puddles of urine in the house where the dog was laying. In the end, a dog with a backbone may not be able to pick up its tail or it may. If a dog owner tries to lift a dog’s tail, it may also cry in pain or whine.
Causes of spinal stenosis in dogs
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative disease, so this means that it develops as a dog ages. It is thought that genetics may play a role in this disease, especially in German Shepherds, but some dogs are born with abnormally shaped vertebrae which can lead to spinal stenosis. More research is needed to fully understand the cause of this disease.
Diagnosis of spinal stenosis in dogs
If you suspect that your dog is developing spinal stenosis your vet will discuss the symptoms you are seeing at home and perform a complete physical exam. Other diseases can be ruled out by doing some blood and urine tests but X-rays of the spinal cord should be taken to see the vertebrae size and spacing. However, to make a final diagnosis, an MRI or CT scan will need to be done.
Treatment of spinal stenosis in dogs
Activity restriction along with medications to address inflammation and pain is the specific treatment plan if surgery is not an option for your dog. Some dogs with spinal stenosis do well with this treatment plan but if the disease is severe enough, surgical intervention may be the only option. A surgery is called a laminectomy if surgery is elected. During this procedure, the doctor will relieve the pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. Not every veterinarian is comfortable performing this type of surgery, so you will need to go to a specialized hospital for this procedure. Post-operative care includes medications to manage pain and inflammation and may also require physical rehabilitation, cold therapy laser, and various supplements.
How to prevent spinal stenosis in dogs
Because spinal stenosis is thought to be a genetic or congenital issue, the only way to help prevent it from occurring in dogs is to screen at-risk breeds for spinal issues prior to breeding. German Shepherds are more prone to developing spinal stenosis, so X-rays of the spine should be obtained to make sure there are no obvious abnormalities of the vertebrae in this breed.