Can a dog still wag tail if paralyzed? Essential Tips

“We got a very, very variable response,” she said. “The point being if we can identify what will predict a response to this drug, then we can target therapy to the most appropriate patient population.”

According to the study, four owners reported some improvement in voluntary wagging while their dogs were on one of the drugs.

The dog had been paralyzed for a long time, said Natasha Olby, professor of neurology at NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, who led the study.

All had injuries roughly in the middle of their backs and had been properly treated when first injured but had not recovered use of their rear legs.

In fact, the owners of one dog were so overcome when its wag returned that they decided to keep paying for the drug, even though their dog wasn’t one that had regained the ability to walk while using it.

Diagnosis of Paralysis Due to Spinal Cord Injury in Dogs

The veterinarian will need to stabilize your dog and provide medical treatment immediately so the preliminary examination may be done quickly in a hospital setting by someone other than your family veterinarian. For this reason, you have to be able to provide as many details as possibly of what happened and your dog’s medical history. This includes any illnesses or injury that have happened recently, whether your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, and whether he is allergic to anything.

The veterinarian will want to take radiographs (x-rays) of your dog’s entire body to see what damage has occurred and whether emergency surgery is needed. A CT scan, ultrasound, and MRI may be necessary as well for more detailed imaging. Once your dog is stable enough the veterinarian will do blood work (i.e. CBC, blood chemistry), urinalysis, heart rate, blood pressure, and possibly a sample of spinal fluid for evaluation.

Causes of Paralysis Due to Spinal Cord Injury in Dogs

The causes of spinal cord injury paralysis are:

  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Animal attack or fight
  • Gunshot wound
  • Any other traumatic injury
  • Paralysis and Partial Parlysis Paresis in the Dog

    Elton is a four-year-old Shih Tzu/Bichon mix. His owners adopted him when he was eight weeks from a breeder. He is a healthy dog, very playful and an integral part of his family. One Morning around 3:00 a.m., Elton was attempting to jump into his parents bed where he usually sleeps. Mom heard a yelp as he was unable to make it to the top of the bed. She picked him up and put him in bed with them. She was unaware of any problems. The next morning he was unable to move both of his rear legs. In a panic, they called their veterinarian and were able to get a visit that morning. Upon examination, including x-rays, it was determined that there was no fracture. The veterinarian then referred the dog to an emergency clinic in Bucks County, PA. The veterinarian prescribed steroids, and muscle relaxers and diagnosed a slipped lumbar (a low back) disc and recommended surgery. The cost of the surgery was between five and seven thousand dollars, which is normal for this type of procedure. The parents were unable to afford the surgical procedure and reluctantly scheduled the dog for euthanasia the following Monday.

    A friend of theirs recommended that they take Elton to see an animal chiropractor for a second opinion. Certified Animal Chiropractors in the State of Pennsylvania need to have approval from a Pennsylvania Licensed Veterinarian in order to treat animals. Upon receiving the approval from the veterinarian, his appointment was scheduled. A few questions needed to be answered at the initial case history interview to make sure that Elton was a candidate for treatment. It was known by the chiropractor that if Elton could wag his tail and control his bowel and bladder that there was a very good chance that he would walk with treatments. Elton was able to do both. The diagnosis that the Veterinary Chiropractor explained was that Elton had an inflamed disk that was pressing on a lumbar nerve. The trauma of Elton missing the top of the bed inflamed his disc so bad that he was unable to walk. These neural impingements of the peripheral nerves that come from the lumbar spine to his legs were being impinged upon rendering him paralyzed. Nerves have two main functions sensory or “pain” and motor or “movement”. The following course of treatment was recommended for Elton.

    The first course of treatment was alignment of Elton’s spine using a non-invasive, non-painful and gentle approach with the use of a spring loaded instrument. There is no twisting, or bending of Elton’s body to accomplish this correction. Misalignments were located in the lumbar spine which was easily corrected. Chiropractic is a healing art which believes that if the spinal vertebrae are in the correct motion and position, that the body has the ability to heal itself from within. By putting the vertebrae back where they belong, the nervous system can function to its fullest potential, thereby allowing the person or animal to function to their fullest.

    The second course of treatment was the use of the K-Laser. This class IV laser uses specific wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared) to create therapeutic effects. These effects include improved healing time, pain reduction, increased circulation and decreased swelling. This painless treatment increases circulation, and draws nutrients to the damaged area this creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved. The laser creates healing at the mitochondria of the cell (the powerhouse of the cell). This improves metabolic activity and the production of cellular energy that leads to a multitude of beneficial effects which includes increased cellular function and health.

    The chiropractor then proceed to set the laser to the appropriate setting for this particular situation. Elton was very cooperative during treatment. After his first visit, he was instructed to be created to diminish any activity.

    His second visit displayed even more improvement. He was beginning to use his rear legs. He was walking very cautiously because his rear legs kept falling from under him.

    After his third visit, Elton wanted to walk and jump. His parents were trying to limit his jumping as instructed. He showed incredible improvement and everyone was ecstatic with joy.

    His fourth visit was the best, he was back to normal. He was running, jumping and very playful. Elton was back to being Elton.

    Elton had an acute injury while trying to jump onto his parents bed. He slipped inflamed a lumbar (a lower back) disc and as a result the disc caused the nerve to swell. This nerve pressure rendered his legs useless. However since Elton was able to wag his tail and control his bowel and bladder, the chiropractor knew that his spinal cord was not severed. He felt that laser therapy would be able to minimize and eliminate the swelling at the site of the injury allowing the nerve to function properly. Chiropractic and laser therapy are viable alternatives that should be explored when animals have various neuromusculoskeletal injuries.

    Dr. Michael Burak has a human and animal chiropractic practice in Huntingdon Valley, PA. He is also an adjunct professor in the Equine Studies Department at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA. Dr. Burak can be reached at (215) 938-6040 and you can visit his website at Fresh Videos

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