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Lumbosacral Stenosis in dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Lumbosacral stenosis in dogs is a condition that occurs when the spinal cord passageways narrow progressively towards the tail bone, causing the dog pain and rawness of nerve endings.

It is found in both…

Hereditary and degenerative variants and can be extremely difficult to diagnosis in older dogs since its clinical signs present a lot like arthritis. This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss this condition in a little greater detail because when left undiagnosed, this condition can grow into a horrendous situation that can ultimately lead to full paralysis of the hind section of your dog!

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Lumbosacral Stenosis

Lumbosacral Stenosis in its inherited form simply means that the dog does not have the genetic material necessary to keep the spinal cord widened all the way along its length. The ‘Lumbo’ part of the term refers to the Lumbar area of the spine, namely the lower vertebrae towards the tail and back end of your dog.  Specifically, the lumbosacral junction is where you’re going to see the most damage with lumbosacral stenosis which is why if left “uncheck” will typically lead to the rear half of your dog being paralyzed.

Lumbrosacral stenosis…

Will present itself when a dog starts to display symptoms of pain in the hind limbs and spine. This can occur from as young as a few days old in the hereditary instance.

With Degenerative Lumbosacral Stenosis…

This will not be the case this is because with the degenerative lumbosacral stenosis variant, the lumbosacral joint becomes damaged or worn. The nerves in between the vertebrae are constricted causing intense pain. This can happen as a result of an accident, severe trauma or as the dog ages and the body does not regenerate at the same rate. Dogs who start to suffer from this in later life will display limping in their back quarters and will be reluctant to wag their tails.

Your dog might also…

Develop spondylosis as a result of prolonged lumbosacral stenosis. It could develop a fused bone in the hips known as a sacrum, which adds further pain.


This condition may worsen and develop into what is called Clauda Equina Syndrome. In this case, the narrowing of the spinal cord has left the nerves constricted for so long that they become damaged. As you can imagine this worsens the pain, making it almost impossible for the pup to walk. At this stage, surgery is the only option if you want to save your pet.

Affected Breeds

Breeds that are known to be at particular risk from this condition are:

Although we must realize that this condition can occur in any breed at any time. It is most likely to affect medium to large breed dogs, it is also more common among male dogs than female.

Treatment Options

If your dog has any of the clinical signs of lumbosacral stenosis then you need to take them to the vet straight away. You must also be extra sure if you receive a diagnosis of arthritis that your pet is being treated for the correct condition. Once your vet has examined your dog there is a high chance that they will want to put them through a radiograph or an MRI to ensure that the spinal cavity has indeed narrowed.

After that…

Your vet is likely to start your pet on a series of anti-inflammatory medications. If your dog is aging and unlikely to survive surgery, it is highly likely that this course of anti-inflammatory drugs will last the rest of their days. This is meant to bring down the swelling of the soft tissue surrounding the lumbar vertebrae.

They may also…

Add pain relief medications and, later down the line, something to help the kidneys process all of that medication. A good vet will not like your pet being on anti-inflammatories for long periods of time.

Your vet…

May also prescribe physical therapy as a tool to aid movement. This is likely either after surgery to help with the recovery, or in elderly dogs who are unlikely to survive surgery. The surgery itself is a fairly standard operation that will widen the constricted cord by slicing into the Lumbosacral region. The surgery is known as a Dorsal Laminectomy. It does require a general anesthetic and, as usual, this carries a degree of risk to it.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have lumbosacral Stenosis (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Flhr October 28, 2018, 1:37 pm

    I think you left out one very successful non-operative procedure for spinal stenosis. Epidural steroid Injections work very well for for stenosis. Acupuncture can be affective as well.

    • indulgeyourpet October 29, 2018, 12:52 pm


      Thanks for the tip! We’ll look into those options and be sure to include them ASAP if it looks like they are a good option.

      We’ll also leave your remark on the site so that folks can investigate this option with their Vet as well.



  • Andrew F. July 22, 2021, 6:51 am

    Hello, thanks for this informational site. My dog currently is in a lot of pain and we are unsure what Is going on with him. He has done numerous blood tests and an MRI and the vets have no idea what’s going on with him. The best diagnoses we have gotten is arthritis however it doesn’t seem correct because the way it progressed was very strange and sounded super similar to this. The first time I noticed anything was when he stepped in a hole at the beach. I noticed he had a very slight limp and he was hesitant to jump up into the car seat leaving. We thought it was his acl. Over time it continued to worsen where it seemed like both legs were bothering him and now it seems like he’s getting a lot of pain in his hips too. Standing up using his hind legs is where he seems to have the most trouble. I was curious as to your knowledge if this sounds like typical onset of the syndrome.

    • indulgeyourpet July 22, 2021, 8:09 am


      Since we’re not medical professionals and we have not owned any animals ourselves who have suffered from lumbosacral stenosis, it would be inappropriate in our opinion to comment on your situation.

      That said, we’ll leave your post up on our page and see if perhaps some of our readers do have experience with this condition who might be able to share their experiences with this condition.

      Best of luck,


    • Lauren December 3, 2021, 3:23 pm

      Andrew I hope with it now being November you have a diagnosis of your dogs condition. 3 weeks ago my 10yr old border collie was wrongly diagnosed with arthritis. Like your dog she couldn’t jump into the car, or on the sofa or bed, a dramatic change in her which happened over 3 days, we spent £200 on medication and supplements, but noticed she was worsening, her back end would sway slightly, like she couldn’t keep her balance and she was using her tail to counterbalance, and her eight back leg would collapse, and she’d just sit down instantly in pain. We then paid for bloods and an xray to check it was arthritis. It was horsetail syndrome, not arthritis, her joints, hips, knees were in good condition. She’s now being treated properly, has had her first steroid injection and is on gabapentin for life. We noticed an improvement that evening after her first steroid injection! Only 4 days in on the right medication but we’ve noticed such a difference in her. Dont stop pestering the vets until you’re happy you’re dogs been diagnosed correctly and is getting the treatment he needs!

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