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Dog Paralysis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Paralysis

Paralysis in a dog

The recent high temperatures have taken their toll not only on people, but also on their four-legged pets.

On the Internet, on many veterinary websites, you can find treatment regimens in the event of heat stroke in a dog.

One of the many worrying symptoms of heat stroke that should worry the caregiver and prompt a visit to the office very quickly is paralysis, or limb paresis dog.

I would like to explore this topic a bit in the following article.

Is heat stroke the only situation where sudden paralysis occurs??

What else could it be caused by?

What is its mechanism?

Can the effects of paralysis be reversed??

I invite you to read.

  • How does paralysis occur?
  • Types of palsy in dogs
  • Symptoms of paralysis in a dog
  • Why is paresis dangerous for a dog?
  • Prognosis for paresis
  • Dog paralysis, treatment and rehabilitation

How does paralysis occur?

When considering the issues of paralysis and paresis, one should also raise the topic of nerve transmission in tissues.

What does the feeling and power mechanism in a limb look like??

Receptors located all over the body are responsible for feeling stimuli.

They differ from each other in the way of transmitting the stimulus, the mechanism of action and the type of information received.

Nociceptors are responsible for the sensation of pain stimuli, for the sensation of mechanical stimuli (such as touch) - mechanoreceptors, for the awareness of the position of one's limbs in relation to each other - proprioreceptors.

They receive individual information and convert it into a signal, which is passed on - through the peripheral nerves to the appropriate centers of the nervous system.

The whole process takes a fraction of a second if the system is functioning without any disruptions.

In the case of damage or disturbance of the path of transmission (or processing) of impulses, sensory disturbances, movement disturbances or power disturbances in a given area may appear.

Paralysis, or paralysis, is the inability to perform movement, most often it is associated with impaired sensation in a given area.

May affect one area of ​​the body (for example, one finger, medial limb, one side of the face), one limb (monoplegia), or four dog limbs (tetraplegia).

The entire paralysis process may begin with monoparesis, i.e. paresis.

Most often it is the result of damage to the nerve roots or peripheral nerves.

The causes of such damage may be bone fractures or dislocations, mechanical injuries, and traffic accidents.

Often paresis appears as a result of pressure on the growing neoplastic tissue in a given area, then the symptoms increase gradually and slowly, early symptoms are difficult to capture.

Types of palsy in dogs

Types of palsy in dogs

Depending on the location of nerve tissue damage within the spinal cord, there are several types of paralysis.

  • Paralysis located in the gray matter of the spinal cord in the first to third thoracic vertebrae.
    Symptoms that may cause concern for a dog handler and lead the attending physician to consider possible damage in this area include:

    • constriction of the pupil,
    • collapsed eyeball,
    • prolapse of the third eyelid,
    • drooping eyelids.
      Similar symptoms also occur in the case of damage to the shoulder plexus.
  • Paralysis of the spinal cord in the cervical region.
    In the case of nerve damage on one side, we deal with unilateral paralysis (hemiparesis), then the paresis occurs only on the right or left side of the body.
    If the damage affects the nerves on both sides - then tetraplegia occurs.
  • Paralysis of the spinal cord below the thoracic section - paralysis or paresis then concern the pelvic limbs.
  • Pelvic plexus - Symptoms include loss of feeling and power in one of your pelvic limbs.
  • The end of the spinal cord.
    They can cause the "ponytail" syndrome, which you can read about in the // cowsierschips article.pl / konskiego-ogona-team /.

Paresis can be caused by damage to a peripheral nerve.

Damage to the sheath of the nerve without damaging the nerve fibers can cause disturbances in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Most often it happens as a result of ischemia, caused, for example, by pressure on a given area.

This type of damage can heal over a period of days or weeks.

The nerve myelin sheath regenerates within 3-4 weeks.

Axonomatosis is the detachment of the axon from the nerve cell, without disturbing the remaining structures.

This type of damage causes a loss of impulse conductivity, but regeneration is possible (very slow).

The most severe and rather non-regenerative damage is the rupture of the nerve fiber, along with the break in the continuity of its sheaths.

Symptoms of paralysis in a dog

Paralysis can be caused by dysfunction of individual peripheral nerves.

For example, loss of functionality in the nerve:

  • suprascapular - causes slight gait disturbances and clear atrophy in the suprascapular and subscapular muscles,
  • axillary - causes elbow flexion weakness, disturbances in skin sensation on the medial surface of the arm,
  • radial - causes the inability to load the limb, weakens the function of straightening the limb, abolishes the feeling on the dorsal surface of the limb,
  • femoral - causes severe gait disturbances, lack of the knee reflex, lack of feeling on the medial surface of the limb, inability to support the weight of the affected limb,
  • sciatic - causes inability to move within the hip joint, severe limb mobility disorders, problem with weight bearing on the affected limb,
  • tibial - causes a significant decrease in the height of the ankle joint, loss of feeling on the sole of the foot.

Sometimes nerve damage may not tolerate the pain sensation in a given area and manifests itself only with partial, slight paresis.

At first glance, the symptoms may not be disturbing - move more slowly, take careful steps.

Many keepers blame this on their dog's old age.

It is only during the neurological examination that a marked slowdown in the response to stimuli and weakening of reflex reactions can be observed.

Tetraparesis, means partial paresis of all limbs.

It is the result of a disseminated process involving peripheral muscles and nerves, but it can also be evidence of, for example, metabolic diseases such as:

  • adrenal insufficiency,
  • hypoglycemia,
  • liver failure.

The neurological conditions that cause paresis can be in the cerebral cortex or thalamus, but also in the brain stem, cervical spinal cord, or lower motor neurons.

Ignoring a tetraplegia and not introducing appropriate treatment can lead to tetraplegia or tetraplegia.


The most common entity that can cause paresis of all four limbs is cervical spine discopathy.

This disease affects dogs of breeds such as:

  • doberman,
  • great dane,
  • miniature poodle,
  • dachshund,
  • beagle.

You can read more about dog discopathy in the article // cowsiersandworms.en / dog-discopathy /.


Polyneuropathies are disease entities that involve groups of nerves, or groups of nerves, in a given part of the body.

An example of polyneuropathy is acute multi-root neuritis.

The exact etiology of this condition is unknown, and it is believed that the disease may be related to the raccoon bite.

It is very rarely seen as a vaccine reaction to rabies.

It causes degeneration and demyelination of nerves, which results in symptoms such as:

  • sudden paralysis,
  • quadriparesis,
  • inability to hold the head.

Interestingly, pain sensation and control over urination and defecation are preserved.

This unit is curable, but the therapy may last up to 4 weeks.

Infectious diseases

Paralysis can also be a symptom of an infectious disease.

Disease entities that can cause paralysis include:

  • toxoplasmosis,
  • neosporosis,
  • meningitis,
  • inflammation within large parts of the nerves.

Other causes of paralysis

The differential diagnosis should also include:

  • botulism,
  • congenital diseases,
  • metabolic diseases (for example, hypoglycemia),
  • paraneoplastic syndrome.

In the course of these diseases, paresis or paralysis of the limbs may also occur.

Why is paresis dangerous for a dog?

First of all, sensory disturbances prevent the pet from reacting to irritating stimuli.

The limb may be vulnerable to damage - under normal circumstances, the dog would alert the handler by squeaking, barking or showing signs of lameness.

In the absence of pain sensation in a given area, the dog will not feel, for example, a stuck foreign body.

An infection will then develop which, if you do not notice the first symptoms, will quickly spread to the surrounding tissues.

Sometimes there is a tingling symptom in the presence of dysesthesia.

This is very unpleasant for the dog and acts of self-harm can occur.

Affected limb can be licked and chewed.

In extreme cases, the dog may try to bite off the limb.

Prognosis for paresis

The prognosis of paralysis and paresis depends on many factors.

Determining the root cause of the paresis is a very important factor influencing the prognosis.

In the event of disorders caused by, for example, an infectious disease, it is important to initiate treatment promptly.

However, if the cause of the progressive loss of power in the limbs is a developing tumor in the nervous system or discopathy, the chances of regaining full fitness may be lower.

Equally important for the prognosis of the patient is the caregiver's response time - the sooner steps are taken to diagnose the cause, the greater the chance of recovery.

In the case of paralysis caused by pressure on the nerve tissue, you can count on regeneration in the event of a quick reaction - good effects are observed, for example, after removing the pressing tumor or using chemotherapy to limit the growth of neoplastic.

In the case of damage during traffic accidents, it is important to determine whether the bone fragments have damaged (or to a great extent) the nearby nerve fibers.

Quick removal of fragments and the introduction of preparations that facilitate the regeneration of nerve fibers may have a positive effect on the patient's condition.

Age is also a very important consideration in considering prognosis.

A young body has much more efficient regenerative processes.

The patient's body weight also influences the prognosis. The greater the weight on the limbs, the more the other limbs are loaded.

The dog becomes less and less willing to make any effort. Such patients take longer to recover.

The degree of nerve damage is also an important consideration when considering prognosis.

The rupture of nerve fibers means that the patient is unlikely to regain full fitness within the innervated area.

Dog paralysis, treatment and rehabilitation

Treatment and rehabilitation

How to help a pet that has paralysis?

In the case when the paresis affects one limb, it is worth taking care of comfort in movement first of all.

Special harnesses, used during walks, in order to optimize the balance will certainly increase the patient's comfort.

The pet's movement should be carefully monitored for any damage to the skin of the affected limb while walking.

If acts of self-harm are observed, take antipruritic drugs or medications with a sedative and calming effect.

It is also worth using a protective collar to avoid aggravating tissue damage.

Massaging the limb and carrying out rehabilitation treatments will also improve the functioning of the pet.

In the event that the pelvic limbs are affected by the paresis, it is worth investing in the purchase of a wheelchair.

It resembles a harness with wheels on the back.

The pelvic limbs are inserted and fastened with straps, and mobility is provided by wheels.

Dogs are great at adapting to walking in a stroller, the comfort of walks increases significantly.

The stroller should be selected so that it corresponds to the size of the pet.

It is worth paying attention to whether any of the elements of the stroller does not damage the skin, rubs or irritates.

If the paresis also affects the sphincter muscles, remember about regular help with bowel movements and great care for hygiene around the anus and the opening of the urethra.

Four-limb paralysis requires a tremendous commitment from the caregiver.

It is necessary to use an anti-bedsore mattress and frequent changes of the pet's body position.

For feeding, the animal must be lifted up to prevent aspiration and minimize the possibility of developing aspiration pneumonia.

Massages and physiotherapy treatments can help maintain proper blood flow through the tissues.

Certainly no care should be abandoned.

If the caregiver feels that the problem is beyond him and will not be able to engage in caring for the animal, and the paralyzed patient's condition does not improve - humane euthanasia should be considered.

Sources used >>

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