Neurological disorders in dogs are not as rare as we might think. Nervous system disorders are often hard enough to recognize, but there are warning signs that can tell you that your pet may have damaged his fragile nervous system. A dog can’t complain of pain or a concussion, so it’s important to know when a veterinarian should see your pet before you find you’ve waited too long.
The nervous system comprises billions of neurons that form a complex network of different pathways in the brain, spinal cord, and periphery. Some disorders may be congenital, others traumatic, and sometimes idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown.
Some of the most common neurological disorders in dogs include:
- degenerative myelopathy.
- Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis
- hepatic encephalopathy
- as well as various poisonings, infectious diseases, and neoplastic processes of the nervous or underlying tissues, which can also give neurological symptoms.
Obviously, only a specialist can make a specific diagnosis, and often not without the help of highly specialized technology (MRI, CT scan, encephalography, etc.). Some diseases can be cured, and the development of others can be slowed down with timely treatment.
Symptoms for each specific disease may be uncharacteristic and depend on the location of the focus in the brain, spinal cord, or periphery. However, there are several symptoms that are worth paying attention to and seeing a specialist for:
- Seizures – uncontrolled movements of the limbs, head, or individual muscles, with or without loss of consciousness;
- Compulsive movements or walking in circles – the animal often starts circling around itself or walking in a big circle (more often in one direction) or, for example, resting against a wall.
- Behavioral changes – it is not only about excessive aggression or on the contrary, but also, for example, lack of reaction to seemingly familiar commands.
- Impaired vision – your dog may start to run into walls or be startled by sudden movements.
- Reflex problems – difficulty going up and down stairs, decreased activity
Diagnosing neurological diseases is often very difficult for narrow specialists as well, since some symptoms may remain hidden from the doctor at the appointment and appear only at home (for example, a video of seizures or pain at home can be very helpful in the diagnosis), besides, many symptoms are uncharacteristic and can be associated with a rather long list of diagnoses.
More often than not, the treatment prescribed by a veterinarian begins with the management of the underlying symptoms, as it can be quite difficult to make a definite diagnosis right away. Additional diagnostic methods may be necessary, ranging from simple blood tests to more specialized methods such as MRIs, CT scans, etc.
All that is required of the owners in the treatment and diagnosis of neurological diseases is a little patience and a responsible approach to the doctor’s prescriptions and recommendations.