Some types of cases in the veterinary world are a bit like buses…. you don’t see one for ages, and then several come along at once. It was a bit like that one weekend recently when we were called to deal with two separate dogs that had each suffered a serious spinal injury, just hours apart.
Both Eddie and Bailey had been absolutely fine, with no warning signs at all, until suddenly they suffered acute loss of control of their back legs and were left unable to stand or walk. Their distraught owners phoned the surgery for help, struggling to believe what was happening.
Unfortunately, injuries like this, where the spinal cord nerves which make up the ‘electrical wiring’ of the body, linking messages from the brain to the extremities and vice versa, can be seen for several reasons- for example, damaged intervertebral discs pressing on the spinal cord, or emboli cutting off the blood supply- and the results are frequently catastrophic. The patient may be left paralysed, and sometimes unable to control their bladder or bowels.
Sometimes surgery is needed to relieve pressure on the spine, and sometimes medical care can help improve swelling and bruising. Providing pain relief is important. In both Eddie and Bailey’s cases, it was vitally important that they received the right physiotherapy as soon as possible. Muscles which aren’t getting nerve input start wasting away rapidly and the joints of paralysed legs need help to stay moving and healthy. It’s critical to stimulate the patient’s nervous system with the right inputs to help recovery and assistance walking very early helps immensely.
Eddie and Bailey started their rehab very early in our specialised centre and both dogs and their very dedicated owners have worked tremendously hard on their physio at home as well as with our veterinary team. It’s been quite a family affair with both sets of owners equally concerned for each other’s dogs as their treatments have overlapped, and we are delighted to report something that six weeks ago looked as if it might not be possible- both Eddie and Bailey are back up and running!