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What Is Cauda Equina Syndrome In Dogs?

A particularly disabling condition for affected dogs, cauda equina syndrome appears in particular in large dogs.

The cauda equina syndrome encompasses all the symptoms related to the destruction of nerve roots in the lower back of the dog, forming what is called the ponytail.

Cauda equina syndrome in dogs: an overview

Cauda equina syndrome in dogs refers to all the manifestations caused by the degeneration of a group of nerve roots located in the region called the “cauda equina”. It’s mainly located under the spinal cord, in the lumbar areas, the sacrum, and the coccyx.

Generally, it is large dogs that are most affected by cauda equina syndrome.

Very disabling for the dog who suffers from it, this condition causes severe pain and prevents the animal from moving normally. In some cases, it may even forbid It to exercise, even light.

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome in dogs

At the initial stage, the animal may find it difficult to switch from lying down to a standing posture. Then, It may feel pain at the slightest physical exertion and start to limp. It can also show discomfort when touched in the lower back.

In some cases, the dog becomes incontinent, and this more and more frequent.

The main causes

The common causes of cauda equina syndrome in dogs are:

  • Bone or nerve disorders: tumors and infections affecting the bones or nerves of the lower back.
  • Hip dysplasia: by promoting the appearance of a herniated disc, hip dysplasia can contribute to the development of this syndrome.
  • Age: in some senior dogs, bone formations of the “parrot’s beak” type may appear on the vertebrae, causing the destruction of the nerves and therefore the cauda equina syndrome.
  • Heredity: some breeds have a predisposition to this condition, in particular the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler, or the Golden Retriever.
  • Accidents: Trauma can lead to fractures of the vertebrae and the destruction of nerve roots in the cauda equina region.

Treatments and solutions

If the symptoms mentioned above appear, it is essential to take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible, because the diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is quite complicated. Rapid treatment can limit the damage caused by the destruction of nerve roots.

Depending on the severity of the damage, the treatment consists of:

  • Relieve osteoarthritis and limit pain
  • Act on the tumor or infection
  • Operate: act surgically on the compression of the affected nerve roots
  • Help the dog in Its movements by equipping It with a support harness or an adapted wheelchair

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