Spinal injury in dogs

It is very difficult to see your beloved furry friend suffering from spinal injuries. You may get emotional, or it becomes hard for you to see your dog in such a pitiful condition. Dogs suffer from almost the same problems as we humans do. The anatomical features of dogs are not much different from humans. Dogs are prone to skeletal system disorders, and such kinds of injuries or trauma become critical for small creatures. They suffer from a lot of pain, and their normal functions are paralyzed.

What you can do in such conditions is pretty much clear. First of all, if your dog, unfortunately, suffers from a spinal injury, your immediate response should be to take him to a nearby emergency service safely. A piece of good knowledge about such conditions can help you identify the nature of trauma and act accordingly. The following article will help you get a better know-how about spinal injuries. This knowledge will help you prevent such conditions and respond accordingly if any such event occurs.

What is Spinal Trauma?

Spinal trauma can be characterized by any sort of injuries such as a car accident, direct injury, medical condition, or gunshot wound that mainly affects the spinal cord of your furry friend. The signs and symptoms of each kind of injury vary accordingly. However, such traumas mainly result in loss of ability to stand and walk and a lot of pain.

Spinal injuries vary a lot in terms of their cause. You may confuse a spinal injury with any other injury because of the great variety. In that case, it is important to take your dog immediately to a professional for better care and treatment. If you ask a veterinarian about spinal injuries in dogs, he may say that such types of injuries account for only 2% of all types of injuries in dogs. However, the severity of spinal injuries is far greater than other kinds of injuries.

Symptoms of Spinal injuries in Dogs

If you are a person who loves his pet more than himself, you need to have basic knowledge about their medical problems. The signs and symptoms of spinal injuries will help you easily identify the severity of the problem. It is clear that the nature of the injury will tell us what should be our response to that. Some of the symptoms are similar in all kinds of spinal injuries.

Acute onset – the symptoms will develop in no time after the trauma. If the trauma is severe, your dog may suffer from sudden recumbency.

Loss of function – another important symptom of spinal injury will be the loss of function. Your dog may suffer from lower leg or lower body impairment.

Ataxia – spinal cord is responsible for nervous coordination in the body. Spinal injury may result in the loss of coordination between the brain the lower body.

Pain – one of the most obvious but non-distinctive signs is pain. Spinal injuries result in lots of pain.

Some basic types of spinal injuries

A broad topic of spinal injury can be summarized into three basic categories.

  1. Intervertebral disk disease – is a progressive disease influenced by age and characterized by discomfort, pain, and paralysis.

  2. Blockage of blood supply – blood supply to the spinal cord may block and result in trauma.

  3. Trauma – accidental traumas such as car accidents, falls, bite wounds, or gunshot wounds.

Causes of Spinal injuries in Dogs

The major causes of spinal injures are of two types. They can be medical or accidental. The following mentioned causes are the most common causes of spinal injuries.

  1. Car accidents – your dog may experience a car accident.

  2. Gunshot wounds- the events of gunshot wounds are very severe and difficult to bear by you and your dog.

  3. Bite wounds – bite wounds may vary greatly in severity depending on the severity of the bite.

  4. IVDD – is a progressive disease that results in the compression of the spine. Your dog may experience a lot of discomforts, pain, and loss of function.

  5. Restriction of blood flow – most large breed dogs are prone to this condition in which the blood flow to the spine is blocked.

Diagnosis of Spinal injuries in Dogs

Diagnosing a spinal injury is not a problem. Veterinarians are very expert in diagnosing such conditions by general examination. The most important goal of your veterinarian is to stabilize the dog as early as possible.

Once stable, your veterinarian will take the full history, run a few tests to idealize the extent of damage, and prepare a complete treatment protocol. The most common test that your vet may prescribe are x-rays, MRI,  and CT scans. These tests will help your vet to devise the treatment plan accordingly.

Treatment of Spinal injuries in Dogs

The treatment of spinal injuries largely depends on the severity of trauma. If your dog is experiencing a small injury, the prognosis may be good. However, as the severity increases, the prognosis becomes poor. In most cases, mild surgical interventions are needed.

After the surgery, the medication treatment plan is followed to cure the damage completely. The medication treatment in most cases is the administration of steroids to help with inflammation and pain. Management care is essential, and cage rest is prescribed in most cases.

Management of spinal injuries

In most cases, when your dog does good with the healing and starts to walk again, your veterinarian may prescribe the use of harnesses to keep the skeletal orientation in its proper place. Quincydogs, keeping that purpose in mind, has designed three different kinds of harnesses to help your dog spend the recovery period with good care.

Our harnesses help your dog walk in a proper gait that prevents the chances of abnormal arrangement of bones after the treatment. Our harnesses are designed to put adequate pressure on the body's pressure points. These pressure points, when triggered, let the body heal at a good pace.

Quincydogs offer the following three designs of harnesses.

Final thoughts

Though spinal injuries are not very common, they are very severe. If you take precautionary measures, you can prevent this condition from happening. You need to properly take care of your pet, provide him with a healthy diet, perform regular exercise and provide a safe shelter. You can use our harnesses to better care and prevent your dog from skeletal system disorders.


written by: 

Dr Saba Afzal, DVM, RVMP

M.phil in Microbiology.