Have you ever wondered? How much do you know about your dog's inner workings?
Beyond the wagging tails and playful barks lies a fascinating canine neurology world.
The nervous system in your dog serves as its central command hub, overseeing a broad spectrum of functions, from basic bodily processes like breathing and metabolism to the more intricate aspects of cognition that shape your dog's character.
If your dog is behaving unusually and you are searching for an ‘animal neurologist near me,’ don't worry, we have your back! This article will help you understand the neurology of your dog’s nervous system, which can encompass physical ailments and cognitive impairments, affecting your dog's ability to comprehend and respond to instructions.
We will also walk you through possible symptoms to detect severity and some treatments to understand before you consult a dog neurology specialist.
The Nervous System
Like all mammals, the nervous system of dogs is a complex and vital part of their anatomy that controls various physiological functions, enables sensory perception, and coordinates their movements and behaviors. To understand this better, we have further explained the different aspects of the nervous system.
Hearing: Dogs usually have an acute sense of hearing. They can hear sounds at frequencies beyond the human range and can detect sounds at a distance of up to four times that of humans.
Smell: Dogs have 220 million scent receptors in their noses. That helps them to detect scents and track them over vast distances.
Vision: Dogs' vision is adapted for low-light conditions, and while they may not see as many colors as humans, they excel at detecting motion.
Emotions and Behavior
Social Bonds: Dogs are highly social animals, forming strong bonds with humans and other dogs. These bonds are rooted in their neurological and emotional makeup.
Stress and Anxiety: Dogs can experience stress and anxiety, often related to environmental or routine changes. Understanding their neurology can help address these issues effectively.
Learning and Memory: Dogs are intelligent animals capable of learning and retaining information. Positive reinforcement and training methods can tap into their cognitive abilities.
Potential Neurological Conditions in Animals
Neurological conditions in dogs and cats can be deeply unsettling for the pet and their human family. This intricate system regulates fundamental actions like walking, coordination, environmental interaction, problem-solving, and sensory functions such as vision, hearing, and balance.
The nervous system assessment commences with a comprehensive review of the pet's history and a thorough physical examination, followed by the assessment of a dog neurology specialist. A series of specific physical tests can be conducted to gauge the performance of various nervous system components. These assessments encompass evaluations of reflexes, muscle functionality, control, and observations of posture and gait.
Symptoms Of Neurological Issues in Dogs
Neurological ailments in dogs can manifest with symptoms from subtle to severe. These signs may encompass:
Reduced coordination (ataxia)
Feet knuckling over
Abnormal, rapid eye movements (nystagmus)
Head tilting or circling behavior
Challenges in walking
Unusual mental activity
Muscle tremors, twitching, or trembling
Weakness in the hindquarters
Diagnosing Neurological Issues in Dogs: A Veterinary Approach
When your dog displays symptoms of a neurological disorder, veterinarians follow a systematic approach to diagnosis. Firstly, they gather a comprehensive medical history, focusing on potential toxin exposure, such as rummaging through trash or unusual environments or any history of trauma.
For dogs experiencing seizures, specific inquiries are made:
Duration of seizure episodes
The onset date of the first seizure
Frequency of seizures
Detailed description of the dog's behavior during seizures includes convulsions, loss of consciousness, or urinary incontinence. Thus, recording a video of your dog's unusual behavior proves invaluable during the consultation.
Your veterinarian may recommend tests, including blood work and X-rays, following a physical examination. Sometimes, a spinal fluid tap may be necessary to analyze cerebrospinal fluid for signs of infection or cancer.
A referral to a veterinary neurologist may be suggested for more intricate investigations. The dog neurology specialist possesses extensive knowledge of neurological diseases and has access to advanced imaging techniques like CT scans and MRIs, aiding in examining spinal cord, disc, or brain structures.
Treating Neurological Conditions
In this section, we have mentioned a few treatment options that help ease your dog’s Neurological symptoms and treat their health rapidly.
Most canine neurological disorders are managed with medications, with anti-epileptic drugs crucial for treating seizure disorders. Close monitoring necessitates periodic bloodwork and examinations to adjust doses as needed.
Anti-inflammatory medications like steroids are often prescribed for spinal cord issues, albeit with potential side effects such as increased thirst, urination, appetite, and panting. Careful attention to your dog's bathroom breaks, diet, and portions is essential to mitigate weight gain.
Procedures and Surgery
Surgeries are intricate and require the expertise of a dog neurology specialist like a neurologist, who will diagnose your dog's condition through examinations like MRI or CT scans. However, the prospect of surgery is said to be intimidating. Thus, understanding the potential outcomes of surgery and adhering to the professional's recommendations and instructions is crucial for successful treatment.
Supplements and Prescription Diets
Nutritional therapies, like SAMe, for reducing inflammation, and specialized diets like Purina Neurocare and Hills b/d can aid in managing certain neurological conditions, slowing cognitive decline, and reducing seizure frequency.
Implementing certain lifestyle modifications can positively impact your pet's well-being and longevity. These adjustments may include dietary restrictions and regular exercise to maintain your dog's health. Additionally, nutritional supplements can enhance your furry companion's health and vitality.
Tips & Tricks for Dog Owners
Engage your dog's brain with puzzles, interactive toys, and training sessions to keep them mentally sharp.
Be vigilant for signs of neurological problems such as seizures, loss of coordination, or changes in behavior; then, it's suggested to consult a veterinarian and get your dog checked.
Routine veterinary visits are essential to monitor your dog's neurological health and catch potential issues early.