Affecting humans and animals, the problems related to the spinal column are responsible for unbearable pain and that can evolve to cause paralysis. Relatively common, discopathy in dogs can cause complications that alter the animal's nervous system, in addition to decreased sensitivity and movements, urinary incontinence and, especially, a lot of pain.
Most of the time caused by injuries and trauma to the spinal cord, the discopathy in dogs it presents quite typical symptoms, and a dog affected by the problem may start to walk with its head down, with a stiff neck, ears back and walk cautiously (as if it were afraid), showing clear signs of suffering and pain.
Since the spinal cord is an extremely delicate structure, it is naturally protected by bony vertebrae, with intervertebral discs between each pair of vertebrae (which can be described as a kind of cushion - with a fibrous contour and gelatinous interior), which prevent constant friction. between them and promote the structure and flexibility necessary for the movement of the dog's spine to occur smoothly.
When the vertebral discs fail to act in the ideal way - due to the compromise of their structure, which can occur due to the aging of the animal or some trauma - is that the discopathy in dogs, which is also popularly known as a herniated disc; a very common and equally complicated problem in humans.
The main clinical sign of this condition, unfortunately, is a very severe pain presented by the pet. However, only by means of radiographs, tomography, magnetic resonance, myelography and other complementary exams is it possible to define the diagnosis accurately - bearing in mind that this is not the only complication that can cause severe pain in dogs. Treatment can be done in several ways, ranging from medications and immobilization to surgery - being defined according to the degree of evolution and the severity of the problem in the animal.
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Although it can occur in dogs of any age, physique and size, the canine discopathy it is more common in dogs with short legs, elongated spine and small size. Some dogs with characteristics almost opposite to these are also more likely to develop this type of complication throughout life, and the list of breeds most likely to have discopathy includes names such as: Dachshund, Poodle, Beagle, Lhasa Apso, Cocker Spaniel, French Bulldog, Pekingese, Welsh Corgi, Shih Tzu, Dobermann, Basset Hound and German Shepherd.
Find out, in this article, some of the main causes for discopathy in dogs, and learn to recognize the signs of the problem in your pet - since, the sooner the complication is identified and treatment begins, the greater the chances that your pet will not have its mobility impaired and avoid more severe pain.
Causes of discopathy in dogs
Acute spinal cord injuries are the main causes of discopathy in dogs, and may appear due to trauma or genetic predisposition. Most common in dogs aged five and over - due to the natural aging of the pet's intervertebral discs - the complication causes changes in the animal's neurological system most of the time that it manifests itself, triggering the appearance of mobility problems.
In cases where the problem has a strong trauma as a cause, the displacement of the intervertebral disc drastically, causing spinal cord injury and, consequently, a lot of pain in the animal.
Within the set of genetic factors that indicate a greater predisposition for the occurrence of discopathy in dogs are the small size, the short legs and the elongated spine, and the dogs of the Lhasa Apso, Pekingese and Dachshund breeds are the most likely to develop problems of disk. Among large animals, those of the Dobermann breed are the ones most likely to present the problem.
According to its evolution, the canine discopathy causes the dog's sensitivity to decrease and lose, making it difficult to move and leading to complete paralysis - since the dislocation (or deterioration) of the discs located between the animal's bony vertebrae, causes them to stop absorbing the impacts of its movement, causing friction and severe pain in the region when the dog moves.
Symptoms and diagnosis of discopathy in dogs
Pain is, without a doubt, the main sign presented by dogs affected by discopathy. Difficulty moving, urinary and fecal incontinence, reduced posture awareness and sensitivity, reluctance to walk and neck stiffness are also on the list of dog symptoms with the problem that, in 10% of cases, causes the animal to become quadriplegic .
You signs of canine discopathy they can arrive in minutes or manifest themselves more gradually in the pet, taking days or even weeks to settle completely. As well as the appearance of the first symptoms, the progression of the problem can also occur with great speed and, therefore, it is very important that the pet is referred to a veterinary professional as soon as its owner notices the possibility of the complication - so that the treatment be facilitated and have more chances of success.
The diagnosis of the complication can only be confirmed through the combination of clinical and imaging tests; and, in some cases, contrast tests may also be required for the problem to be definitive.
Radiographs of the animal's spine, collection of samples of the spinal cord fluid and myelography - which consists of a radiography with the use of a contrast applied to the pet's spinal canal - are among the most frequently performed exams so that the dog discopathy is identified, and CT scans can also be used as a way to complement the diagnosis, but today with the advancement in diagnostic imaging in veterinary medicine, we already have magnetic resonance imaging available in some places, which precisely indicates the severity and location of the dog's injury.
Treatment of dystopathy in dogs
The treatment indicated for discopathy in dogs varies according to the severity of the case and the reason for the problem. The indication in more intense and complicated cases (involving paralysis and spinal cord compression) is generally surgical, however, more conservative clinical treatments can also be recommended in milder cases of the problem.
Having as main objective the reduction of the spinal cord injury through the use of medicines, the most traditional treatments and free of surgeries for the canine discopathy include the use of corticosteroids, rest and immobilization of the animal. Most of the time, this type of process is started immediately after the first signs of the problem appear and, therefore, can facilitate the dog's recovery.
However, although there are cases where clinical treatment can decrease the spinal cord injury of the animal and allow the affected or broken disk, in a certain way, to regenerate; cases of new crises and paralysis in dogs treated with this type of technique can be quite common, confirming the need for surgical intervention to resolve the condition.
As the attacks of the disease in dogs grow, so does the amount of permanent lesions in the animal's spinal cord and, in these cases, only surgery to remove the material that causes the problem can be effective for the pet. Although it is considered more aggressive, treatment through surgical intervention allows for a very quick recovery, in addition to allowing the dog to recover the maximum of the functions of its spinal cord.
The time and extent of recovery of each animal it is varied, and will depend both on the spinal cord injuries of the dog and on the time that elapsed between the appearance of the problem and the surgery; the smaller it is, the greater the chances of a complete and quick rehabilitation.
In cases of milder injuries, or so severe that they would no longer respond to surgical treatment, the use of alternative treatments (combined or not with allopathic medications) has shown quite satisfactory results, considerably easing the pain of animals affected by discopathy.
Frequent sessions of acupuncture and physiotherapy they are part of the alternative package indicated in most cases, with additional treatments - which include the use of therapeutic laser and ultrasound, electrotherapy and thermotherapy with heat and cold - also entering the list.
Exercises that work on the strengthening and resistance of the animal are not left out of the methods adopted in clinical treatments; as well as the promotion of sensory stimuli with the use of different tools, brushes, needles and kinesiotherapy - a technique that consists of seeking healing through movement.
- Dog Health
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