Canine spinal stroke can render your dog disabled albeit temporarily. However, the experience can be terrifying and may cause you and your dog to be traumatized.

Medically termed as fibrocartilaginous embolism or FCE, spinal stroke is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel located in the spinal cord. The condition will cause instant paralysis of the lower limbs. Fortunately, with the right treatment plan, spinal stroke can be treated.

If your dog is, unfortunately, experiencing a spinal stroke, don’t panic. Instead be calm and seek emergency help immediately. It can greatly help if you know what you are looking for at this point. Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of canine spinal stroke helps you react appropriately especially that the condition can occur anytime.


Signs of canine spinal stroke


Common in large canine breeds as well as in miniature schnauzers and Shetland sheepdogs, FCE can occur without warning and usually in the middle of a dog’s activity. A dog may be jumping or leaping, and upon landing will lose their balance and starts yelping.

Once you hear your dog’s yelping, assess the situation immediately. If your dog can no longer walk, it is likely a spinal stroke. Other symptoms may also occur such as:

  • There is an unsuccessful attempt to walk or move.
  • Rear limbs may be dragged around or its very weak.
  • Your dog may not feel any pain but there will be a decrease his movement.

The pain only occurs on the onset of the stroke; afterwards, it is going to be painless. However, there is no way you can tell if your dog is suffering from a serious injury. If it’s FCE, your dog will exhibit the symptoms listed above within the next 24 hours.

Causes of FCE

There is no clear cause of FCE. Although some breeds are genetically predisposed to the condition, there is no clear support of the theory just yet. However, hypothyroidism, hyperlipidemia as well as hypertension are known to be the leading causes.

But intense activity is known to be the predecessor of canine spinal stroke. An embolism is another factor that can also cause FCE. An embolism is produced through injuries in the spinal cord such as when your pooch jumped and had landed incorrectly. The good thing is, FCE is treatable. Paralysis is temporary, and with the right treatment plan, your dog will be up in no time.

Treatment options for dogs suffering FCE

Canine wheelchairs are an excellent option to let your dog move from one place to the other while the treatment is ongoing. Harnesses can also help when walking your dog in and out from the tub, or going up and down on the stairs. To stop sudden destabilization, a back brace may also be used.

To help your pet with FCE to get better, he needs extensive physical therapy. You need the help of a professional therapist to do the job.

Although the condition can be extremely heartbreaking, your pet should be up in no time after a combination of owner support and physical therapy. Certain factors may affect your dog’s healing process such as his age and his overall health. However, dogs who had experienced the condition can still return to living normally.



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