Paralysis in dogs


There are numerous causes that can produce paralysis in dogs. This usually begins in the hind legs but immobility can also be observed in the front limbs.

In this article of Animal Expert we will talk about situations and diseases most common that may be behind canine paralysis. Of course, if our dog stops walking and fails to move its paws, we must go to the vet No waste of time.

Tick ​​paralysis in dogs

Ticks are about external parasites They feed on the blood they get from our dogs once they have noticed them. In turn, ticks can be internally parasitized so that in contact with our dog they can transmit diseases.

But, in addition, tick saliva may be behind a hypersensitivity reaction and the disease known as tick paralysis, in which the dog suffers an ascending paralysis that if it affects breathing can cause death. It requires veterinary treatment and the prognosis is reserved. Sometimes healing occurs when the tick is removed and removed, thus neurotoxin that contains your saliva and that is the one that is affecting the motor nerves.

There are other parasitic organisms, such as the neospora, also capable of causing paralysis in dogs, usually ascendingly, that is, starting with the hind legs and following their evolution until paralyzing the front legs. In addition, other bites can cause paralysis, such as some snakes with neurotoxic poisons, which, in addition to the legs, can affect respiratory capacity and cause death.

Better than cure we must prevent, keeping our dog dewormed to avoid ticks, controlling their exits through dangerous places or checking it after the walks.

Trauma paralysis in dogs

On other occasions, paralysis occurs in dogs due to a strong blow, like the one that can cause an outrage or a fall from a great height. This impact damages the spine and spinal cord and, consequently, the nerves responsible for the movement of the legs are affected. Is a sudden paralysis in dogs, since it occurs immediately after spinal injury.

Other times this injury also affects the sphincter control, with which we find animals that cannot urinate alone or do not control defecation. Each case must be assessed and a complete study made using veterinarians specializing in traumatology and tests such as contrast radiography or CT.

Depending on the damage caused, the dog can recover or maintain paralysis. In this case, the second case will require assistance in your mobility in the form of wheelchair and rehabilitation. It is important to avoid maintaining the same posture for a long time so that pressure ulcers do not occur. If paralysis affects only one leg, amputation may be the treatment of choice.

Paralysis in dogs due to poisoning

This paralysis occurs after the intake of some toxic products that affect the nervous system such as those that may contain herbicides, insecticides, etc., some of very fast acting. Is a emergency which requires immediate veterinary attention because the condition can be aggravated, depending on the product, the quantity and size of the dog, even producing death very quickly.

If we identify the poison we must communicate it to our veterinarian. In addition to paralysis, we can observe hypersalivation, vomiting, uncoordination, abdominal pain or diarrhea. The treatment depends on the product but usually it happens to enter the dog and administer drugs that control the symptoms and, if it exists, antidote. Both forecast and recovery are reserved.

Paralysis in dogs by distemper

The youngest animals, especially under three months, are the most affected by canine distemper, a serious viral disease that includes paralysis between your symptoms This disease occurs in different phases in which respiratory signs such as nasal secretion and cough appear, others that affect the digestive system such as vomiting and diarrhea or those who attack the nervous system with seizures or myoclonus (rhythmic contractions of muscle groups).

In case of suspicion of distemper, we must seek immediate veterinary assistance. The dog usually needs admission, fluid therapy and administration of intravenous drugs. The prognosis is reserved so it is advisable to prevent following the schedule of vaccines for dogs.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Paralysis in dogs - Causes and treatment, we recommend you go to our Other health problems section.


A dog's ability to move and perform daily activities depends on the ability of the brain, spine, nerves, and muscles to coordinate together. This complex communication system exchanges information when the nerves in the brain send messages to the body about the outside environment, and the body sends messages to the brain about what it is experiencing in the environment. These messages are transmitted through the nerves in the spinal cord, which are embedded in the spine or spine. Together, the nerves of the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. A trauma in any part of the nervous pathways can lead to poor communication, or to the total lack of communication between the brain and the body, generating an inability to coordinate body movements.

The spine is made up of a set of 24 bones called vertebrae, which are separated from each other by small cushions called intervertebral discs. Together, the vertebrae and intervertebral discs protect the spine from damage. Trauma to the vertebrae or discs can create vulnerability in the nerves of the spinal cord, leading to new disorders of the neural pathway.

When a dog experiences paralysis, it is often because the communication between the spinal cord and the brain has been interrupted. In some cases, the dog is not able to move its legs, a state of total paralysis, and in other cases, there may still be some communication between the brain and the spine, and the dog will only appear weak or have difficulty moving his legs, a condition known as: partial paralysis. There are also cases in which a dog may be paralyzed from all four legs (tetraplegia), and in others, the dog may be able to control movement in some of its legs, but not all. This is determined by the location of the trauma, which occurred in the brain, spine, nerves or muscles.

Some races are more prone than others. Dogs that are close to the ground with an elongated back, such as the dachshund and the dachshund, are commonly affected by the rupture of the vertebral discs by exerting pressure on the spinal cord, a condition known as intervertebral disc disease. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to a condition called degenerative myelopathy (MD), a disease that attacks the nerves on the backs of older dogs (over seven years old). It is a slow action, a progressive disorder that eventually leads to paralysis of the hind legs. The breeds affected by this disease are the welsh corgi, boxer, German shepherd, retriever from the Chesapeake Bay, and Irish setter.

Neurological causes that explain paraparesis or acute paraplegia

When your dog does not get up from the legs behind, there are several possibilities to explain what could have happened. And this impossibility may be due to neurological, orthopedic, or systemic causes. When the cause is of neurological origin, this deficit in the locomotion of the hind legs is described as paraparesis (partial loss) or paraplegia (total loss) of the motor function of the hind limbs. If it has occurred during the last 72 hours, we will talk about an acute paraplegia or paraparesis. Next we will discuss the causes that usually cause this acute paralysis in the hind limbs attributable to neurological causes.

The most common cause of paraparesis and paraplegia in dogs is degenerative invertebral disc disease that is common in dogs, but rare in cats. Specifically, Hansen type I herniated discs are the type of hernias that usually occur with such an acute condition, since those of type II usually have a more chronic evolution. The races most predisposed to Hansen hernias type I are the Teckel, the Cockers Spaniel, the Beagle, the Pekingese, the Lhasa Apso and the Shih tzu, among others. If your dog suffers from this type of hernia, you should take it immediately to the neurologist veterinarian, as the prognosis worsens with a wheelchair.

Second, spinal trauma in dogs and cats is also among the main causes of acute paraparesis or paraplegia. In these cases, a complete examination of the animal must first be carried out to check its general condition, specifically to rule out a ruptured bladder and internal hemorrhages, among others, which could have occurred as indicated by the authors of the Manual of practical neurology * 1, postoperative care and post-surgical rehabilitation are essential to ensure full recovery, as well as rest on soft surfaces,
changing the dog's side every four to six hours so that bedsores do not occur. We must also provide adequate nutrition and h> massages and passive movement exercises on the hind legs for 15 minutes four times a day, swimming from the week of surgery, help you in attempts to get up, and keeping your skin dry and clean.

Third, an acute paraplegia or paraparesis could be attributable to a vascular problem. Specifically, in dogs a fibrocartlaginous embolism is common, although rare in cats, while in cats aortic thromboembolism is common, which would be very strange in dogs. Fibrocartlaginous embolism occurs mainly in large breeds of dogs, although there is a predisposition in the Schnawzer mini. They produce a paraparesis or paraplegia that often occurs asymmetrically, and usually have a hyperacute picture after intense physical exercise. Although pain may occur at the beginning of the injury, it usually disappears after a few hours. The treatment is supportive, along with corticosteroids and gastric protectors. Most dogs usually recover functionality as pets in about six weeks, although recovery has a different prognosis depending on the location of the lesion. As for aortic thromboembolism, in cats, it is associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It can cause paraparesis or symmetric or asymmetric paraplegia. The treatment is complex and should be consulted in detail with a specialist, as the guidelines vary frequently.

Fourth, acute paralysis in the hind limbs of neurological origin may be due to an infectious disease with bone marrow involvement in dogs and cats, particularly meningomyelitis could occur, although it is not very common. In addition, it is even rarer that they cause a very acute condition, since their involvement is usually more chronic. Finally, we will always have to ask whether it can be a neoplastic process that has affected at the medullary level, although, as in meningomyelitis, it usually has a more chronic evolution and it would be strange to find such an acute presentation, which could occur if the Neoplasia causes a vertebral fracture or a heart attack or spinal hemorrhage.

Cheryl Chrisman, Christopher Mariani, Simon Platt and Roger Clemmons. Manual of practical neurology. 2003. Multimédica S.A.

Clara Castells Urgell - Ortocanis Veterinary

Main causes of paralysis in dogs

Fundamentally, paralysis in dogs la causes either trauma or disease. This can be congenital or infectious. Among the congenital diseases that cause paralysis in dogs, especially in the hind limbs, is a degenerative pathology of intervertebral discs. Dogs that suffer from it, usually due to age, lose mobility, since the membrane that surrounds their spinal cord progressively decomposes.

As for the infectious diseases that cause paralysis, there are two that are especially dangerous. Are the Rage and the distemper. On the other hand, the animal that experiences a paralysis may have a tumor somewhere in your body that affects mobility. For example, if you have one in the spine, it can affect the extremities.

In addition, the dog may suffer paralysis due to a neck injury. OR in the spinal cord. Generally, these types of injuries are the result of a strong blow or an accident. In these cases, the paralysis is usually permanent.

In another order of things, paralysis in dogs can be psychological, as a result of shock. In these cases, since there are no spinal injuries, the paralysis will be temporary. It can also cause the intake of spoiled food, contaminated with botulymic toxin. It can even be caused by bite of an insect, since there are animals that with a sting can cause paralysis in dogs. It is the case of some tick families.

Symptoms and treatment of paralysis in dogs

In addition to inability to walk, paralysis in dogs may have other symptoms. For example, the difficulties getting up. It can also be an indicator that the animal cannot urinate, or has problems controlling urine. In the latter case, it will drip constantly. This can also happen to the animal when defecating. In addition, you can also walk with pain or as if you were dizzy.

In these cases, it is best to take the animal to the veterinarian to examine it and decide what can be done. In case of incontinence apart from paralysis, it should be kept as clean as possible. This will prevent the animal from having infections, in addition to bad odors. In these cases, special dog diapers can be used.

On the other hand, we must take care that rest in the most comfortable way possible. For this it is advisable to buy an orthopedic bed for dogs. In addition to providing them with a better rest, these beds are specific to avoid skin ulcers due to the low mobility they have.

In any case, having a paralysis is not currently an obstacle for dogs to keep moving and enjoying themselves. There are wheelchairs adapted to them, with which, if they have mobility in the front legs, they can keep walking and moving as if the four legs worked well.