What is Canine Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a congenital, abnormal position or curvature of the spine. Most of the time, pets are born with this condition, but scoliosis can also be acquired due to spinal trauma. Scoliosis is common in humans but is also seen in dogs and cats!
With an abnormal spinal curve, the spinal cord is at a higher risk of becoming pinched or compressed. Similarly to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), spinal cord compression can cause pain and neurological symptoms. However, most pets with scoliosis are pain free and adapt very easily to a normal life.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Scoliosis
Diagnosing scoliosis is done with an X-Ray. The curve of the spine will be evident on scans, and it is often easy to spot the curve of the spine without scans as well.
Back pain can occur, and a dog’s mobility can be impacted. Some pets may experience neurological symptoms (such as wobbling when they walk) or organ failure if the spine is dramatically curved.
- Visible spinal curve
- Pain when petting or touching the back
- Unwillingness to run or play
- Difficulty getting up from a laying down position
- Lack of muscle support around the pet’s vertebrae
Although most animals with scoliosis don’t experience any physical discomfort, in extreme cases where there is severe curvature of the spine, there can be additional health problems.
Treating Scoliosis in Dogs
With mild forms of scoliosis, often, no treatment will be recommended. However, if your pup starts to act as if they are in pain, you can manage it with NSAIDs and crate rest or a back brace like the Walkin’ Pets vertebraVe will help stabilize the spine.
More severe cases could require decompression surgery or stabilization surgery to ease the pain and straighten the spine. Early diagnosis and intervention are integral to preventing scoliosis from progressing to the stage where surgery is necessary. It is uncommon for a dog who has a home to advance to this point. If scoliosis is caused by trauma, surgery is much more common. To keep your pet moving after surgery and help rehab post-surgery, a dog wheelchair can significantly improve your pet’s post-surgical care.
How Common is Dog Scoliosis?
Canine scoliosis is actually very rare. Not many dogs are born with the condition, but it still happens! Dogs and humans aren’t the only ones that can be diagnosed with scoliosis. Scoliosis can occur in any animal, including cats and horses.