Lumbosacral Stenosis in dogs is a condition that occurs when the spinal cord passageways narrow progressively towards the tailbone, causing the dog pain and rawness of nerve endings. It is found in both hereditary and degenerative variants and can be extremely difficult to diagnose 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 complete paralysis of the hind section of your dog!
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Lumbosacral Stenosis Defined
Lumbosacral Stenosis in its inherited form means that the dog does not have the genetic material necessary to keep the spinal cord widened along its length. The ‘Lumbo’ part of the term refers to the Lumbar area of the spine, namely the lower vertebrae towards your dog’s tail and back end.
Specifically, the lumbosacral junction is where you will see the most damage with lumbosacral Stenosis, which is why, if left “unchecked,” it will typically lead to the rear half of your dog’s paralyzed. Lumbosacral Stenosis will naturally present when a dog displays pain symptoms in the hind limbs and spine. In the hereditary instance, this can occur from as young as a few days old.
With Degenerative Lumbosacral Stenosis…
This is not the case 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 due to 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. Eventually, this condition may worsen and develop into Claudia 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. Surgery is the only option at this stage if you want to save your pet.
Most Commonly Affected Breeds
Breeds that are known to be at particular risk from this condition are:
- Airedale Terrier,
- English Springer Spaniel,
- German Shepherd Dog,
- Golden Retriever,
- Great Dane,
- Irish Setter,
- Labrador Retriever,
However, we must realize that this condition can occur in any breed at any time, most likely affecting medium to large-breed dogs. It is also more common among male dogs than females.
If your dog has any clinical signs of lumbosacral Stenosis, you must immediately take them to the vet. You must also be extra sure if you receive a diagnosis of arthritis, your pet is being treated for the correct condition. Once your vet has examined your dog, there is a high chance they will want to put it through a radiograph or an MRI to ensure the spinal cavity has narrowed.
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 soft tissue swelling surrounding the lumbar vertebrae. They may also add pain relief medications and, later, something to help the kidneys process all that medication. A good vet will not like your pet being on anti-inflammatories for long periods.
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 the surgery. The surgery is a fairly standard operation that will widen the constricted cord by slicing it into the Lumbosacral region. The surgery is known as a Dorsal Laminectomy. It does require a general anesthetic and, as usual, carries a degree of risk.
Which brings us to…
We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks 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), you’ll first want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!
An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs! This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.
Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable 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.