Animal Neurology: What Are Signs of Neurological Disorders in Dogs?

Animal neurology is not well known among pet owners. Many neurological disorders can affect dogs, and when symptoms start to appear, it can be heart-breaking and very distressing for owners to see their dogs in such pain or discomfort.

Nobody ever wants to think about their beloved pet developing a neurological condition. Sadly, dogs, just like humans, are susceptible to severe health problems that affect their nerves and nervous system

If your pet does ever exhibit symptoms of a severe condition, the best way to give them a fighting chance of recovery from a neurological condition is to know and understand the signs. Being able to spot problems with your dog’s health very early on will allow you to act fast by taking them to a specialist in animal neurology. 

What Are Neurological Disorders in Dogs?

Neurological disorders are illnesses that affect and start your dog’s peripheral nervous system. The three main areas affected by this type of disorder are the nerves, spinal cord, and the brain. 

What Symptoms Are Most Commonly Associated With Neurological Disorders?

Several different neurological conditions may affect dogs. Spotting the early symptoms of a neurological condition is going to be vital for the treatment of your pet. Neurological disorders that affect the nerves may cause facial paralysis or a loss of function in the tongue. Your dog may also possibly lose the ability to blink. 

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Disorders that are associated with the spinal cord may cause your dog not to feel pain in certain limbs. They may have a problem with urination, and they may have issues walking, such as an unsteady gait, or paralysis of front or back limbs. If your dog is suffering from any form of seizures, tremors, blindness, or tilting of the head, then this could be symptomatic of a brain disorder

What Are The Most Common Neurological Conditions In Dogs?

Seizures: There are three major causes of seizures in dogs. Firstly, they could be caused by a problem such as low blood sugar, or a lack of calcium. The canine neurologist would take blood tests to identify this. Secondly, the seizures could be caused by tumors or infections in the brain. A third cause could be epilepsy. As with humans, it is possible to control the symptoms of epilepsy through the use of medication.

Spinal Disease: Problems with the spinal cord, called myelopathy, can range from pain to paralysis. As the spinal cord carries information around the body, the neurologist will very likely use imaging techniques such as an MRI or CT scan to find the cause.

Vestibular Disease: If your dog is having problems balancing or coordinating its movements, then this may be symptomatic of a problem with its vestibular system. This can either be caused by problems with the peripheral system (their inner ear) or the central system (the brainstem). Often, the dog will be treated with anti-nausea drugs to keep them comfortable. 

Wobbler Syndrome: A condition that is more commonly found in bigger breeds of dogs, this is brought about by problems in the vertebrae. Your dog may have a gait that is slowly getting worse. Treatment may require steroids or surgery. 

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Intervertebral Disc Disease: Leading to back pain and a lack of coordination in dogs, this is caused by a hardening of the material between the discs in a dog’s spine. 

Getting Your Dog Diagnosed With A Neurological Condition 

If you have noticed any of the symptoms of a neurological condition appearing in your pet, you should get them to a vet at the earliest possible chance. Often the symptoms will come on very suddenly, and it can be very distressing for both your dog and you as their owner. Your vet will want to gather as much information about the history of your pet and the condition. This will help them to make a full and thorough diagnosis, which is essential when it comes to deciding which treatment your pet needs. 

There are a handful of questions that the vet will ask to understand the situation appropriately. The types of questions asked will include: when did symptoms first appear, what are the pain levels, are there any medical problems, are they currently on medication, any previous medical issues, any past or current injuries, and if you have traveled anywhere with your dog. The vet will also want to know whether the dog has eaten anything that it shouldn’t have. The canine neurologist will want to carry out a full examination on the dog to see how their reflexes and nerve reactions are. 

We hope you found our animal neurology blog educational. If you feel that your dog may have a neurological disorder, please contact us immediately. If you would like more information about neurology, you can find information on our BrightCare Animal Neurology website. 

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About the Author: Tung Chi