Let’s start with an inspiring case study of 2 months old Buddy, who won over his disability caused by spinal injury with his grit and apt vet’s care.
Buddy was 2 months old, Dachshund puppy, when he lost the use of his back legs in a freak accident, which broke his back. Buddy’s X-rays had revealed a vertebral fracture, which probably severed his spinal cord from thoraco lumbar junction. He had lost sensations in both his feet and could hardly move. Randeep – Buddy’s friend decided not to give up. After numerous hours on net we finally came to the decision that surgery at this stage was too late an option. The only thing we could try was a physical rehabilitation device that would give Buddy the chance to use his upper body to move around.
After getting inspiration from websites on designs of wheel chairs for dogs, we built the first prototype, but it failed. Nevertheless, we did not give up the dream that Buddy will walk again. And one day we succeeded in making a wheel chair that was light, mobile and which Buddy enjoyed. He ran to his heart’s content. And we could see his eyes full of love and appreciation.
As time flew by, Buddy walked for longer and longer on wheels, till one day when we decided to remove the support underneath his feet. But, he did not gain any strength back. Then started the long process of physiotherapy. Daily massages, occasional swims and lots of love. By the end of third month, we had remodified his wheelchair to allow him to use his legs. Buddy did not disappoint us. He regained some strength in his left hind leg and started walking on three legs. Till now his physiotherapy is on and he is gaining strength each day. Each breath he takes is a testimony of the fact, “In love, do not give up!”
Buddy was fortunate to have parents who went out of their way to help him, and also fortune favored the brave heart Buddy, making him walk, play and run again. But every pooch is not lucky enough. Read on to get valuable info about the spinal injuries…it’s symptoms, causes and precutions.
The spinal cord along with the brain makes up the central nervous system. The spine is made up of the vertebrae, the spinal cord, the intervertebral disc and tendons, muscles and ligaments that hold all this together. Trauma to the spinal cord is not common and can be very devastating. It is most often associated with sudden impact injury, such as being hit by an automobile, gunshot or falling from a height. When the spine is injured, a vertebra may fracture or a disc may rupture. Sometimes the vertebrae are torn apart. In addition to trauma to the spine, the animal typically sustains injuries elsewhere on the body.
The most common cause of spinal injury by far is the dog being hit by an automobile. Certain breeds with short legs, like Dachshund, Corgis, Miniature Jack Russell and Fox Terriers are prone to disc problems that can result in mild to severe signs and may result in paralysis without any history of trauma.
Symptoms and signs
Spinal injuries have a progression of signs going from mild to total paralysis. Pain is the first sign, which is noticeable. The pet may not be willing to stand or in milder cases jump up onto furniture or use stairs. In mild cases, the pet may appear shaky, especially in the hindquarters. It may fall easily when turning corners.
Your pet may become weak in his hindquarters and have difficulty getting up. You may notice that your pet stands on the upper surface of his toes instead the pads. He may scuff his nails and wear them down so they bleed. As symptoms worsen, your pet may not be able to get up.
Cells of the spinal system have no ability to regenerate so that once cell death occurs, the damage becomes permanent. Therefore, it is very important to be careful, while handling an animal you suspect to have spinal damage. The spinal cord can be severely damaged at the time of the accident however sometimes the cord is uninjured. Nevertheless the support structure around it has been compromised and it becomes easy to damage the cord. It is therefore extremely important not to twist, bend or compress the injured spinal column. Prompt veterinary treatment may prevent paralysis and euthanasia for your pet.
Keep your animal as quiet as possible no matter the cause. For trauma cases, lift the pet supporting the injured spine so that as little movement as possible occurs at the injury site. Put small pets in a basket or a box. Larger dogs should be carried on a board or between several people. Under no circumstances a pet with suspected spinal injury should be allowed to jump or use stairs. Rush to your vet immediately.
Disability is the worst face of any form of sickness, mostly it occurs due to lack of proper treatment. And when our pet doggies are concerned, even a minor negligence can prove fatal. Spinal injuries often cause irreparable losses and situation gets even worse, due to lack of knowledge. Here’s an in-depth information about the same.
(Dr. Jaspreet S. Mauj, MVSc Surgery, runs the pet clinic ‘Vets for Pets’ in Ludhiana and can be contacted at: 9815245692.)