Spinal surgery can sound intimidating. When your pet is having difficulty walking and experiencing back or neck pain or is dragging their rear limbs, it can be scary to hear that your pet may need surgery. Rest assured that our neurologists in Miami, Boynton Beach, Jupiter and Virginia Beach perform spinal surgeries every single day; in fact, we have helped over 20,000 pets regain their ability to walk. If your pet needs spinal surgery, we are confident that there are no better hands to care for your pet than ours.
Why Might My Pet Need Spinal Surgery?
Pets may need to undergo spinal surgery for a variety of reasons, but most spinal surgeries are done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. That pressure may be due to a slipped disc, a tumor, a fluid pocket, or another issue. Sometimes surgery is needed to fix broken bones in the back or neck, or re-align and stabilize a dislocated joint in the back or neck.
Conditions We May Treat with Surgery at Southeast Veterinary Neurology
Intervertebral Disc Disease
The most common reason for spinal surgery is to treat intervertebral disc disease. Intervertebral disc disease may cause back or neck pain, wobbly walking, or complete paralysis (inability to use the rear limbs or all four limbs). Not all dogs with intervertebral disc disease will need surgery; we only recommend it if the likelihood of improving their condition outweighs any downsides of surgery.
Situations for which we would recommend surgery include:
- Neck or back pain that is either not improving, or is getting worse even after a week of medication and rest
- Recurrent neck or back pain or recurrent wobbly walking
- Inability to walk in the rear limbs, or all four limbs
The chances of getting better depend on the reason for your pet’s difficulty walking and the severity of their injury. This is why it is so important that they be examined by one of our neurologists.
The type of surgery needed to treat intervertebral disc disease depends on the disc’s location. In general, slipped discs in the neck are treated with a surgery called a ventral slot procedure. For this surgery, we make an incision on the underside of the neck and create a small window in the bottom part of the bones of the neck to retrieve any disc material that is pressing on the spinal cord.
Slipped discs in the back are usually treated with a surgery called a hemilaminectomy. Our neurologists make an incision on the back and create a window on the side of the back bones to retrieve disc material that is compressing the spinal cord.
Dogs and cats sometimes get spinal cord tumors. Some of these tumors are best treated with surgery, depending on the type of tumor and where it is located on the spine. Your neurologist will let you know whether surgery is an option for your pet’s particular case. We will also discuss the risks and benefits of surgery, as well as the likely success rate.
Constrictive Myelopathy/Pug Myelopathy
Pugs ranging in age from adult to senior may show difficulty walking in their rear limbs. This is often caused by a condition called constrictive myelopathy, in which a fluid pocket develops outside of the spinal cord. This fluid pocket is believed to be caused by a band of scar tissue surrounding the spinal cord like a belt. Surgery may be recommended to relieve the fluid buildup and stabilize the bones of the back.
Young small and toy breed dogs like Chihuahuas and Yorkies can develop a dislocation between the first two bones in the neck, known as atlantoaxial luxation. This can cause pain, weakness, and wobbly walking in all four limbs. If we diagnose your pet with this condition, our neurologists may recommend surgery to realign the bones of the neck and stabilize them in the correct position. Surgery is often curative.
Trauma due to dog bites, gunshot wounds, or automotive accidents can also be treated with surgery.
Why You Should Choose Us for Your Pet's Spinal Surgery
Our neurologists are highly skilled in neurology and neurosurgery, including spinal surgery. We have performed thousands of successful spinal surgeries over the years, and have received patients from all over the world for surgery here at Southeast Veterinary Neurology. However, we only recommend surgery if we think it is the best thing for your pet, and only after discussing all of your options and explaining the pros and cons of each.