Spinal injuries in dogs-IVDD,FCE,DM

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Medical Conditions
Intervertebral Disc Disease
Fibrocartilaginous Embolism
Degenerative Myelopathy

Care of the Paralyzed Dog
Dog Carts and Wheelchairs

Do you know anyone who has a dog who lives with paralysis? If so please consider submitting their story to Dr. Marie's book about paralyzed dogs.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

The intervertebral discs are the spongy cushions that are between each of the vertebrae (bones) in the spinal cord. Have a look at the xray of a dog's spine. You can see that between each of the vertebrae there is a black space. This area is not actually a space, but rather it is made up of cartilage (which does not show up well on xrays). On this xray there is an area where the disc space is extremely narrowed. This dog has intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).

There are varying degrees of IVDD. Most dogs will have spinal pain that improves over time with anti-inflammatory medication. However, if the disc protrudes and pushes up on the spinal cord this can cause paralysis. Sometimes a surgery can be done to remove the offending material. However, this surgery is very expensive and not all dogs are candidates for surgery.

IVDD is most common in daschunds but can happen in any breed of dog.

If you have questions about your dog's condition, you can click here to ask a vet a question.

Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE)

A fibrocartilaginous embolism occurs when some of the material inside of the spongy disc that cushions the vertebrae ends up affecting the blood supply to the spinal cord. We don't really know why this happens. It is most commonly seen in large breed dogs. One difference between intervertebral disc disease and a fibrocartilaginous embolism is that dogs with FCE have no pain.

Dogs with FCE will have some degree of neurological impairment which can vary from slight weakness to complete paralysis. Unfortunately there is no cure for FCE.

To definitively diagnose FCE an MRI is necessary.

If you have questions about your dog's condition, you can click here to ASK A VET QUESTION.

Degenerative Myelopathy
german shepherd degenerative myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a condition that affects the nerve function of the back legs and hind end of an animal. It is believed to be genetic. It most commonly affects German Shepherds and German Shepherd mixes but can also affect Collies, Corgis, Siberian Huskies and other breeds.

Unfortunately there is no cure for degenerative myelopathy. Dogs who have this condition generally start to have weakness in the hind legs which slowly gets worse. Eventually they lose the ability to control the hind legs. The good news is that this condition is not painful.

If you suspect your dog may have degenerative myelopathy or have questions about your dog's condition, you can click here to ASK A VET QUESTION.

Care of the paralyzed dog

One of the biggest concerns in a paralyzed dog is cleanliness. Often dogs will have incontinence issues. You can clean your dog by giving baths or by using baby wipes regularly. You can purchase canine diapers if necessary. The following websites are places where you may be able to purchase canine diapers:

Your vet will likely recommend doing tests on your dog's urine a few times per year to make sure that there is no infection developing as this can commonly happen in paralyzed dogs.

Be sure that your dog has a soft surface available for sleeping. Paralyzed dogs are more prone to developing sores or ulcers, especially if they are mostly on a hard surface. An orthopedic dog bed can help reduce the development of such sores. You can purchase these at the following websites:

Dog Wheelchairs and Carts

Many paralyzed dogs can adapt to using a canine cart or wheelchair. Usually a dog will need to be measured and fitted for a wheelchair. Here are some places where you can purchase these:

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.