Dog's Spinal Injury Requires Nursing, Therapy

An expert answers your question about spinal injuries and the road to recovery.

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Q. My 5-year-old hound dog was hit by a car. She had dislocated her spine down by the tail; the doctor snapped it back into place easily. She has feeling and can move both her legs (one is sluggish), but she can't stand up. She still has pain in her backside. Could that be the reason she can't get up?

Her tail is numb and simply hangs. She also cannot control her bowels, though she seems to know when she is going. She has made progress since the accident; she can flip herself over and she can scoot around. I do massage and stretch her legs daily. I want her to get well so badly.

I would like to know if anyone else has had a dog in this situation that has gotten well. Are there any good exercises I can do? Is there hope?

A. You are truly a kind, patient and caring person and obviously a dog lover. Don't give up hope while your dog's spirits are high and progress is being made.

The tail dislocation can account for the tail paralysis but not the rear limb signs or incontinence. The latter are most likely due to spinal cord damage between the mid-back and pelvis. The pain suggests possible spinal fractures, instabilities, nerve entrapment or rupture of one or more intevertebral disks.

Pain medication should be administered and your dog kept quiet until it is further evaluated. Be cautious once the pain medication is started because the dog might try to be more active than her condition allows.

Next, get full assessment of the condition of the spine, pelvis and possibly the spinal cord. Any unstable areas will be identified through X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging and possibly a myelograma dye study of the spine and spinal cord. Surgery may ensure the dog's m aximum recovery.

Your veterinarian should perform a neurologic exam every tow to four weeks to evaluate her progress and need for medications. Nursing care and physical therapy will be essential elements of your dog's recovery.


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Joy   The Dalles, OR

4/14/2011 12:12:37 PM

I know it's been a while since you folks commented. But 48 hours ago my 7 and a half year old pug also suffered a spinal injury that has left his back legs without feeling or mobility. We are taking this one day at a time. And I'm encouraged to see slight movements in his toes and seeing him stretch his back legs a few times. But it's the hardest thing my fiance and I have ever had to do. I was wondering the outcome of your pugs? I hope the best. I know miracles can and do happen. And I also know everything happens for a reason and dogs are forever. Thank you for any responses.

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Barb   Chicago, IL

7/25/2010 3:55:40 PM

I also have a pug that was injured in a tussle with another dog. She yelped in pain and lost control of her rear legs. I immediatley took her to the vet and X-rays did not give any info on her situation. She received two steroid shots and was sent home to rest. It has been 3 days now and no change. I am struggling with the thought of putting her down. If someone could please give me hope. I love my pug very much and have had her for seven years. Thanks

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Dallas   Burlington, KS

4/23/2010 11:44:13 AM

Would like to hear more about the prognosis. I have a pug that injured her spinal cord - X-rays indicate no breaks. She does have deep flexor pain in her hind legs but is unable to use them and just scoots around. She has been treated with steroids and is in complete cage rest to keep her quiet. I would love to hear about success stories and TIMELINES. I too perform massage and flex therapy on her hind legs in hopes she will recover.

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