When the nerve roots located between the vertebrae in the lumbar region and the sacrum experience compression, the dog suffers from what is called a lumbosacral syndrome. What are the origins and mechanisms? How is the affected dog treated?
The lumbosacral syndrome of the dog is also called cauda equina syndrome. The affection occurs, in fact, at the level of an area commonly designated by the expression “horsetail”, located at the junction between the lumbar vertebrae and the sacrum. Among the common forms is degenerative lumbosacral stenosis.
Lumbosacral syndrome in dogs: what is it?
This pathology affecting the dog occurs when the nerve roots of the ponytail are compressed.
It can result from a Hansen II type disc herniation (with disc degeneration), lumbosacral instability, misalignment of the facet joints, congenital a nomalias in the vertebrae, osteochondrosis ( abnormality in the growth of sacral bone and cartilage or more than one of these factors at the same time.
Typically, lumbosacral syndrome manifests itself in mature dogs (around 7 years of age). It concerns both medium-sized and large-sized dog breeds. Overall, working dogs are more exposed than their peers.
There is also a much higher prevalence in male dogs than in female dogs.
Symptoms and diagnosis of the lumbosacral syndrome
Most often, the lumbosacral syndrome results, in the affected dog, by difficulties in its movements. These disorders will worsen over time if not taken care of.
At an early stage, lumbosacral syndrome in dogs gives rise to pain in the lumbar or lumbosacral area. The animal also begins to limp its hind legs. Little by little, It has more and more difficulty in passing from the lying or sitting position to that standing on Its 4 limbs, and vice versa.
Then the dog is reluctant to perform certain efforts, such as jumping and climbing stairs. The tail tends to stay low and the quadruped increasingly avoids leaning on its hind limbs.
Symptoms may progress to incontinence, as well as loss of tone and reflexes.
It is therefore recommended to call, as soon as possible, a veterinarian neurologist. A series of tests allow It to highlight pain in the “ponytail” area.
Additional examinations are then requested: x-ray, scanner (with a more precise result), or even MRI. We then look for signs of narrowing of the space between L7 (last lumbar vertebra) and S1 (sacrum), as well as a disc protrusion or characteristics of soft tissues in the vertebral canal.
The different types of lumbosacral syndrome treatments
Depending on the severity of the attack, different treatments may be recommended for dogs affected by the lumbosacral syndrome.
Drug management mainly consists of the administration of anti-inflammatory drugs and possibly cortisone injections. We will also try to ensure that the dog loses weight if necessary, in order to reduce the stress on the area and the hind legs.
If the drugs do not give a satisfactory result, surgery becomes necessary. A dorsal laminectomy, with or without partial discectomy or foraminotomy as the case may be, will then allow decompression of the nerve roots of the cauda equina.
A predisposition in certain breeds
Among the dog breeds predisposed to lumbosacral syndrome, we can mention the German Shepherd, the Shepherd of Brie, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Boxer, the Dobermann, the Dalmatian, the Greyhound, the Hovawart, the Rhodesian-Ridgeback, and the Rottweiler.