DLSS is a condition that affects the spinal canal, leading to the narrowing of the space and compression of the spinal cord and nerves. Dogs can suffer from this debilitating condition, which can cause pain, weakness, and a decline in their quality of life. In this blog post, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for spinal stenosis in dogs, shedding light on the importance of early detection and specialised care.
Understanding Spinal Stenosis:
Canine degenerative lumbosacral stenosis (DLSS) describes a syndrome in dogs associated with degeneration of the structures of the lumbosacral junction leading to signs of low back pain ± neurologic dysfunction associated with compression of the cauda equina.
DLSS has a multifactorial origin in which intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration plays a major role. However, the DLSS syndrome lacks pathognomonic characteristics, and diagnosis is often presumptive based on a combination of clinical signs, findings on advanced imaging, and ruling out other specific etiologies that cause cauda equina compression (Worth et al 2019)
Incidence and prevalence of spinal stenosis in dogs:
While exact figures for the incidence and prevalence of spinal stenosis in dogs are challenging to determine, research suggests that certain breeds are more susceptible. In general breeds like German Shepherds, and Doberman Pinschers are at a higher risk due to their anatomical conformation and genetic factors
Recognising the symptoms:
.Detecting spinal stenosis in its early stages is crucial for successful management. Dogs with spinal stenosis may exhibit symptoms such as back pain, difficulty with certain movements, loss of coordination, hind limb weakness, and, in severe cases, paralysis. Prompt recognition of these signs can help initiate appropriate treatment and improve outcomes.
Accurate diagnosis is key to developing an effective treatment plan. Veterinary professionals may employ diagnostic imaging techniques such as radiography, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate the extent of stenosis, identify underlying causes, and assess the impact on the spinal cord and nerves
The treatment of spinal stenosis in dogs aims to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance the overall quality of life. The specific treatment approach depends on the type and severity of stenosis. Treatment options may include:
Pain management medication, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or analgesics, may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.
b. Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation:
Canine rehabilitation therapists play a vital role in managing spinal stenosis. Through tailored treatment plans, they focus on pain management, range of motion exercises, hydrotherapy, and strengthening activities to enhance the dog's mobility and promote healing.
In more severe cases of spinal stenosis, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgical options include decompression, distraction stabilisation technique or laminectomy, which involves removing the bone or tissue that is compressing the spinal cord, or spinal fusion to stabilise the affected area.
Home care and long term management:
Continued care at home is essential for the long-term management of spinal stenosis. Canine physiotherapists educate owners on exercises, environmental modifications, and assistive devices that can support the dog's mobility and comfort. Compliance with prescribed home care is crucial for maximising the benefits of rehabilitation therapy
Spinal stenosis in dogs can significantly impact their mobility, comfort, and overall quality of life. Canine physiotherapists play a vital role in managing this condition, offering non-surgical alternative
Spinal stenosis can significantly impact a dog's mobility and overall well-being. Early detection, accurate diagnosis, and a comprehensive treatment approach are key to managing this condition effectively. By working closely with veterinary professionals and canine physiotherapists, owners can provide their dogs with the specialised care needed to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance their quality of life.
Worth et al (2019) Canine Degenerative Lumbosacral Stenosis: Prevalence, Impact And Management Strategies
Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a prevalent and potentially debilitating condition that affects the spinal discs of dogs. IVDD occurs when the intervertebral discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, degenerate or become herniated. This condition can cause pain, mobility issues, and, in severe cases, paralysis. In this blog post, we will delve into the causes, risk factors, and preventative measures associated with IVDD in dogs
To grasp the implications of IVDD, it is crucial to comprehend the structure and function of intervertebral discs. These discs have a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a soft, gelatinous center known as the nucleus pulposus. IVDD can manifest in two primary forms:
a. Hansen Type I: This acute form is characterized by a sudden rupture or protrusion of the disc material into the spinal canal, leading to compression of the spinal cord.
b. Hansen Type II: This chronic form involves gradual degeneration of the disc, leading to herniation or bulging over time.
There are several factors that increase the risk of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in dogs. These factors are as follows:
Breed Predisposition: Certain dog breeds have a higher susceptibility to IVDD due to genetic factors. Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Beagles, and Pekingese are among the breeds that are at an increased risk, according to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Kealy et al., 2012).
Age and Weight: Older dogs and overweight or obese individuals are more likely to develop IVDD. This suggests that age and weight are significant risk factors.
Conformational Factors: Dogs with certain physical attributes, such as long backs and short legs, are more likely to get IVDD. Breeds like Basset Hounds and French Bulldogs are examples of this conformational predisposition.
Trauma and Activity Level: Traumatic incidents like falls or excessive jumping increase the risk of disc damage. Additionally, high-impact activities that strain the spine, like repetitive jumping or twisting, can worsen the condition.
Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a common condition that can affect a dog's quality of life. While not all cases of IVDD can be prevented, there are measures that pet owners can take to reduce the risk or severity of this condition. These include:
Weight management: Keeping a healthy weight through proper nutrition and regular exercise can help reduce stress on the intervertebral discs.
Controlled exercise: Encouraging controlled exercise and avoiding high-impact activities can help minimize the strain on the spine. Regular walks, swimming, and low-impact play are beneficial for dogs at risk of IVDD.
Environmental modifications: Providing supportive bedding, avoiding high surfaces, and using ramps or stairs can reduce the risk of falls or jumping-related injuries.
Regular veterinary check-ups: Routine examinations allow veterinarians to monitor the dog's spinal health and detect early signs of IVDD, enabling prompt intervention.
As always, if you are reading this blog post as a pet owner, always consult with a veterinarian or physiotherapist for tailored advice based on your dog's individual needs and breed predisposition. By understanding the risk factors associated with IVDD and implementing preventive strategies, we can help safeguard the spinal health and overall well-being of our doggos.
Kealy, R. D., Lawler, D. F., Ballam, J. M., Mantz, S. L., Biery, D. N., Greeley, E. H., Lust, G., Segre, M., Smith, G. K., & Stowe, H. D. (2012). Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 220(9), 1315–1320.
Courcier, E. A., Thomson, R. M., Mellor, D. J., & Yam, P. S. (2010). An epidemiological study of environmental factors associated with canine obesity. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51(7), 362–367.