Unless they are promptly treated dogs that suffer from this disease, as a rule, become permanently paralyzed.
A couple of months ago four dogs with sudden-onset rear-leg paralysis were presented at our hospital. They all had marked proprioception deficiency of their rear legs and couldn’t sense where their rear feet were placed, patellar reflexes were depressed, the dogs dragged their rear legs when they tried to walk, and all were in severe pain. Radiographs showed no indication of vertebral fracture, dislocation, infection, or metastatic cancer. The diagnosis for each dog was rupture of an intervertebral disc of the spine with injury of the over-lying spinal cord resulting in the dogs’ symptoms.
All dogs were treated medically for two days to control spinal cord inflammation at the compression site, to support energy metabolism by injured spinal cord cells and assure their survival, and to reduce the dogs’ pain.
Three of the dogs were sent home with follow up gluco-corticoid treatment for two more days and one dog had the injury site surgically repaired. This dog was the most severely compromised neurologically.
All dogs were confined for one month to prevent excess activity which might further injure the spinal cord. Two months later all dogs walked, ran, and played normally. One would even jump up on the sofa. It appeared that there was no residual functional impairment of any of the dogs.
The sooner treatment begins after the disc rupture the better the outcome will be. Should your dog suddenly develop rear-leg paralysis get it to your veterinarian right away. Sometimes rear-leg lameness and pain develop without paralysis, this too may be a sign of intervertebral disc disease, and should be seen promptly by a veterinarian. In any case do not wait to see if the dog will recover spontaneously.
Check out Dr. Howards’s Blog www.howardvet.blogspot.com
Visit us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/HowardAnimalHospital