Many people prefer dogs and cats when it comes to petting a beautiful and affectionate animal. You may have adopted a dog for a similar reason too. However, you must understand that petting your little fellow does not include only feeding and bathing it on time or taking it out for walks and playing with it. Though the mentioned duties equally matter, you have to take care of your dog’s other issues.
Similar to humans, dogs also suffer from neurological problems. However, the issues may remain looked down upon because of less information available on the subject. If your dog has a neurological disorder, it will present specific signs that help you judge that it has some underlying health issue. Moreover, as a responsible dog owner, you must observe your dog’s neurological problems, if any are present.
This article will brief you on basic animal neurology, the occurrence of common neurological disorders in dogs, their signs, and how to treat them. So, without any further delay, let’s get started!
What do you mean by ‘neurology?’
Before you learn about the abnormal neurological signs, the common neurological problems in dogs and their treatment, it would be best to know what neurology means. Speaking of neurology, it is a branch of medical science that thoroughly discusses the nervous system’s structure, function, and illnesses.
Since both animals and humans possess the luxury of having a nervous system, neurological problems can occur in any species. However, in this article, we will primarily focus on neurological disorders in dogs.
What do you mean by a ‘neurological disorder?’
Whenever you hear the term ‘disorder,’ you must understand that something is not normal. You can use the word ‘disorder’ as an alternative to ‘disease.’ Therefore, a neurological disorder means that the nervous system of an animal’s body has caught an illness. Either a neurological disease occurs in humans or animals, both of them suffer painfully.
The fundamental elements of the nervous system include the brain, spinal cord (backbone), and nerves emerging from the cord. All of them are responsible for carrying signals from the brain to the spinal cord and then to all the body parts, and vice versa. Therefore, whenever a neurological disorder occurs, a disease has interrupted the nervous system’s functioning.
Understandably, you would never want your dog to suffer from a neurological issue since such disorders are painful, and you would have to see your dog struggling in misery. Besides, many vets do not have enough knowledge about animal neurology, which tends to worsen the affected dogs’ situation.
What causes neurological disorders in dogs?
There are several reasons that you may hold responsible for neurological disorders in dogs. If your dog presents with signs and symptoms of a neurological disease mentioned later, it would be better to trace out the cause. You may want to recall that your dog had a terrible accident a few months ago. However, it survived, but maybe its nervous system suffered internally.
While accidents can cause direct trauma to a dog’s nervous system, on the contrary, some already ongoing hidden diseases in your dog might include the nervous system and produce a neurological issue. Furthermore, nutritional deficiencies may also affect your dog’s nervous system. Therefore you must take care of its regular diet.
The warnings signs of a neurological disorder in dogs
Let’s have a look at the signs that suggest the presence of a neurological issue in your dog;
1. Pain in the back and neck
One of the crucial signs that your affected dog comes up with is a pain in its back and neck. You would notice that it would react whenever you attempt to touch your dog’s neck or back area. Besides, if your dog’s nervous system is ill, you would also see an alteration in different activities, like less or no tail wagging or being unable to lift the tail up.
Moreover, if your dog is suffering from a neurological issue, it would not walk properly or climb up the stairs like it used to.
2. Daze and confusion
Whenever any illness affects the brain, disorientation or dazed condition is a common presentation, humans or dogs. You would observe your neurologically sick dog does not appreciate the current time, person, and anything else. You would stand in front of your dog, and it would not recognize you.
Similarly, your dog would probably not identify its place of living too.
3. Disturbed balance
A dog with an impaired nervous system cannot maintain the balance of its body. First, we want you to know that the brain contains three parts; forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. The lattermost part contains Cerebellum, which plays the most significant role in balancing the body.
Therefore, if the impairment involves the Cerebellum or nearby areas of the brain, your dog would not keep the balance, and you would see it falling here and there.
4. Eyeball movements
Impairment of the brain also brings about abnormal eyeball movements. For example, if the neurological issue has targeted the Cerebellum, your dog’s eyes would develop a condition called ‘nystagmus,’ where both eyeballs move in opposite directions.
Although paralysis may not become evident immediately, if you know your dog has a neurological condition, it would be best to be observant towards your dog’s health. When impairment of the nerves occur that are responsible for transmitting signals to muscles of the body, your dog may develop weakness while walking, urinating, defecating, and moving different parts of the body.
6. Hallucinated scratching
You may come across a sign called ‘phantom scratching’ while reading about dogs’ neurological disorders. The character refers to a hallucinating condition when your affected dog starts scratching in the air, usually near its ears or neck, without touching its body.
Familiar neurological disorders in dogs
The term ‘myelopathies’ refers to disorders of the spinal cord (backbone). As mentioned earlier, the spinal cord carries essential signals from the brain to every part of the body and vice versa. Therefore, it holds a significant value!
Your dog’s neurologist may run a few tests like MRI and CT scans to determine the extent of the disease.
Seizures are a diverse entity. Briefly, you may understand that impairment of the nervous system may result in abnormal and sudden electrical activity in the brain, which further leads to the appearance of seizures (fits.) Therefore, if your dog develops seizures, it would indeed affect its overall health and regular activities.
9. Vestibular impairment
The vestibular system is responsible for maintaining the balance and posture of your dog’s body. The system includes two critical elements; the inner ear and Cerebellum. If any disease affects the mentioned two elements, your dog will not balance its body correctly.
10. Wobbler syndrome
The spinal cord of giant dogs tends to compress, which leads to the impairment of nerves. Since nerves are responsible for supplying signals, the result is unpredictable. Mainly, the syndrome occurs in the neck region of the dogs. Moreover, as the name of the syndrome suggests, you would observe a wobbling gait of your dog.
11. Intervertebral disc disease
The spinal cord (backbone) comprises vertebral bodies, which contain discs between them. If the discs get infected or diseased, your dog will develop back pain and relevant signs.
Approach to neurological issues in dogs
Though there are fewer professional vets with the knowledge of animal neurology, it would be best if you consult a vet if your dog comes up with the signs mentioned above. Delaying your dog’s consultation with a vet will only worsen the condition.
Your dog’s vet may suggest surgeries that are successful in the current times. However, sometimes, a neurological issue in your dog is not treatable. However, you must never lose hope!
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Undeniably, witnessing your dog stuck in a miserable condition induced by a neurological disorder is painful. However, please stay strong emotionally and find the best neurologist for your dog in the vicinity, so its treatment begins as early as possible.
In this article, we have tried our best to discuss animal neurology, signs of neurological disorders, and familiar neurological diseases in dogs and address them. Hopefully, it will prove helpful!