Helping pets through challenging medical problems is our pride and our passion. Meet some of our patients and see how they were able to overcome their life-limiting conditions with the help of our team.
- AA Instability
- Brain Tumor
- Vestibular Disease
Gizmo, a 4-month-old Husky, became paralyzed over the course of a couple of weeks.
Diagnosed with a nephroblastoma, a rare juvenile spinal cord tumor, his family was originally given no hope. But after finding a SEVN article online about a patient with the same condition that was able to walk again, Gizmo’s family visited SEVN Jupiter for a second opinion. Dr. Senneca surgically removed the tumor, and Gizmo is back to himself!
Miss Tibby, a 15-year-old Chihuahua, presented to SEVN of Boynton Beach for recurring seizure episodes. An MRI was performed and she was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. Dr. Reese has been managing her seizures with medications and she has been seizure free for five months.
April was adopted as a sweet and playful young beagle. When her family noticed behavior changes and signs of neck pain, they were referred to Southeast Veterinary Neurology (SEVN), where MRI and spinal fluid analysis revealed inflammation of the blood vessels in the meninges. April was diagnosed with steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis (SRMA). This is her journey to recovery.
Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE)
Rocky is a happy, healthy golden retriever that became paralyzed from one day to the next. After receiving grim news at the emergency hospital, Rocky was thankfully referred to SEVN, where MRI revealed the true and treatable cause of his paralysis, a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE). Rocky is back to his happy self!
Bernie is a little terrier puppy that was rescued from the county shelter with a dramatic case of hydrocephalus. Luckily, the rescue brought him to SEVN where he was diagnosed and treated by our compassionate team of experts. After a long journey that included surgery, Bernie pulled through and was adopted into his forever family. If you love happy-ever-afters, this is the success story for you.
Snowflake is an active dog who started having trouble going up stairs and, within a few days, was dragging his back legs. After not improving with medical treatment from an emergency hospital, he was referred to SEVN, where his neurological exam and MRI revealed a severely slipped disc. Although he only had a 50% chance of ever walking again, he is walking after surgery with SEVN!
After an overnight stay at an emergency hospital, Jeter presented to SEVN for inability to walk following a scuffle with another dog, where MRI revealed an acute non-compressive nucleus pulposus extrusion (ANNPE). Jeter learned to walk again with the help of physical rehabilitation from our team of experts!
Nala is a playful Siamese cat that started vocalizing more, acting painful, and hanging her tail limp. After treatment for a suspected urinary tract infection by her vet, her walking deteriorated, and she was referred to SEVN, where MRI revealed a herniated disc. This was actually great news because a tumor was thought to be the most likely cause prior to MRI, since herniated discs are uncommon in cats. Nala is doing fantastic after surgery!
Buster, the dachshund, started showing symptoms of IVDD, but seemed to improve after a visit to his primary care veterinarian. Unfortunately, symptoms returned, and he lost the ability to walk. Fortunately, he presented to SEVN in time for surgery to restore his ability to walk, and he is as happy as ever!
Yogi Bear is an 8-year-old Pomeranian who presented to us for evaluation of inability to walk and mentation changes. Yogi Bear’s MRI showed a brain tumor whose appearance was consistent with a Meningioma, the most common type of brain tumor that arises from the cells lining the brain. His owners opted to proceed with surgery to remove the brain tumor. After 5 weeks of physical therapy and medications, Yogi Bear is comfortable and running around on his own!
Chiki, a 7-year-old Chihuahua, was normal one day and lost the ability to walk the next. Possible causes for this included a slipped disc (IVDD), meningitis, a tumor, and others, but MRI revealed a slipped disc. Surgery was performed under the same anesthetic period, and Chiki made a fantastic recovery!
Meet Comet, she is a 9-year-old poodle mix who presented for a recent onset of behavior changes: circling, lethargy, and getting stuck in corners. On neurological examination, she was responsive but somewhat distant and confused. She had a tendency to walk in circles towards the left. Her cranial nerve examination was normal, as were her patellar and withdrawal reflexes. Postural reactions were slightly delayed in the right thoracic and right pelvic limb. She did not seem painful. Watch her journey to find out what her MRI revealed and what TeamSEVN did to help Comet and her family.
Sasha is a 4-year-old Dachshund, that presented to us on an emergency basis for evaluation of acute inability to walk. On examination, Sasha was not able to move or feel her back legs. An MRI was performed which revealed a slipped disc at T12-13 and she underwent surgery to remove the disc material. After a course of rest and physical therapy, Sasha is walking again!
Jake, a lab pit mix presented to Southeast Veterinary Neurology for neck pain and inability to walk on all four legs. An MRI showed a slipped disc and Dr. Wong performed surgery, which helped Jake return to normal function. Five years later, he is still making memories as the family’s best friend.
Bane is a 2-year-old French Bulldog, that presented to us on an emergency basis for evaluation of acute inability to walk. On examination, Bane was not able to move or feel his back legs. An MRI was performed which revealed a slipped disc at L3-L4 and he underwent surgery to remove the disc material. After a course of rest and physical therapy, Bane is walking again!
Jackson is a 7-year-old dachshund who presented to SEVN for severe neck pain that did not respond to medications and rest. As you can see in the video, Jackson was very uncomfortable. He had neck muscle spasms and was holding his head low. An MRI of Jackson’s cervical spine was performed and revealed a disc herniation at C3-C4. Surgery was performed to remove the compressive disc material. Post-operatively Jackson is doing great! He is much more comfortable in his neck and moves his head and neck freely!
Wilber is a 9-year-old male Labrador Retriever who presented for evaluation of an acute inability to walk in all four of his limbs. On neurologic examination, he could not move any of his limbs, however he could still feel his legs. Wilber’s MRI showed a slipped disc at C4-5 and ventral slot surgery was performed. Since surgery, Wilber has improved tremendously. He is back to being able to walk, and is very comfortable.
Benji is an 8-month-old Beagle that presented for difficulty walking and neck pain. Benji was diagnosed with neutrophilic inflammation (meningitis) and was started on prednisone. He visited us again for his recheck and as you can see, he was walking again and wagging his tail around the hospital!
Two Disc Herniations
Alyssa is a 12-year-old dachshund, who was initially unable to walk. She was rescued by the team at Dachshund Rescue South Florida and brought to us for evaluation. An MRI of her thoracolumbar spinal column revealed two disc herniations at T12-T13 and L1-L2. Dr. Fitz proceeded with decompressive spinal surgery to remove the herniated disc material. Post-operatively Alyssa is doing fantastic! She is now able to walk on all four legs comfortably and continues to improve daily.
Atlantoaxial (AA) Instability
Jilly Bean is a 4-year-old poodle mix who presented for evaluation of recurrent neck pain and difficulty walking. Based on her symptoms, Dr. Wong was concerned about a slipped disc, meningitis or atlantoaxial(AA) instability, even though she was on the older side for AA.
Her MRI revealed atlantoaxial (AA) instability as the cause of her symptoms. Her parents elected to proceed with surgery and Dr. Wong performed a ventral stabilization procedure. Jilly Bean has since recovered from surgery and is now walking comfortably and happy!
Atlantoaxial instability occurs due to a malformation in the first two bones of the neck. This malformation leads to instability between these bones which can cause compression of the spinal cord of the neck. This compression causes symptoms of neck pain, weakness in all four limbs, incoordination in all four limbs, or inability to walk in all four limbs.
Atlantoaxial instability can be suspected based on age, breed, symptoms and examination, but tests are needed to confirm a diagnosis. Radiographs (X-rays) can show the instability and misalignment of the bones of the neck, but an MRI is usually required to fully show the extent of the damage, to rule out other causes of neck pain and wobbliness/weakness in dogs.
There are two main ways to treat atlantoaxial instability in dogs. The preferred treatment is surgery to realign the bones, then reduce the instability by stabilizing the bones. The other treatment option involves placing a neck bandage and strict rest for 4-6 months. The downside of this approach is that it does not address the underlying problem, and most dogs will have a recurrence or worsening of symptoms in the future.
The prognosis for atlantoaxial instability is good for dogs that are treated with surgery. Complications of difficulty breathing, worsening of symptoms, bleeding, infection or breaking of the implants are possible.
Jeter is a 5-year-old terrier mix who presented on emergency for a sudden inability to walk following a traumatic event with his furry sibling. He was evaluated at an emergency hospital overnight and transferred to SEVN the following morning.
On examination, Jeter was unable to walk in all four limbs. He was able to move his right pelvic (rear) limb, but unable to move the other three limbs. He was alert, with normal cranial nerve evaluation and normal spinal reflexes. He did not seem painful. He had postural reaction deficits (knuckling over of the limbs) in all four limbs. This told us there was a problem affecting the cervical spinal cord.
Possible causes for an adult, medium-sized dog with a problem affecting the neck include a slipped disc, fibrocartilagenous embolism, tumor, meningitis or acute non-compressive nucleus pulposus extrusion (ANNPE).
An MRI was performed, which showed an ANNPE. ANNPE is when a small amount of the nucleus pulposus (the inner jelly-like part of the intervertebral disc) shoots out of the disc at high speed and strikes the spinal cord. This can cause symptoms of wobbly walking, inability to walk, or even paralysis. Surgery is not necessary for dogs with ANNPE. The treatment for Jeter involved time, rest and physical rehabilitation. Jeter underwent physical rehabilitation with our team and has regained the ability to walk. He will continue to improve.
Fibrocartilagenous Embolism (FCE)
Nalu is a nine-year-old Siberian Husky. One weekend, he was let out into the back yard, he ran, yelped and was then found dragging his pelvic limbs. Nalu was unable to stand and walk on his own, showed hindlimb weakness (worse on the left) and lack of awareness of where his back legs were located in space. His MRI revealed a stroke to the spinal cord (fibrocartilagenous embolism, or FCE) in his mid-back (at T12-13). The classic presentation of a dog with an FCE is a dog that was being active and had an acute onset of asymmetrical (primarily one-sided) spinal cord dysfunction. Signs are typically non-painful and do not worsen. Nalu is back home and his owners have been advised to treat him with rest, nursing care, physical therapy and time.
Mojo is a 6-year-old male French Bulldog that presented to us on an emergency basis for evaluation of acute inability to walk. On examination, Mojo was not able to move his legs but was able to feel them. An MRI was performed which revealed a slipped disc at C4-C5 and he underwent surgery to remove the disc material. As you can see, Mojo is back home and on his feet! We’re so happy to have helped him get back to his treat-loving self.
Baby, a 16-year old male domestic shorthair cat had a history of ear infections and came to us dull, distant, and unable to stand or walk on his own. Following an exam, blood tests, and high-field MRI, we diagnosed Baby with a brain tumor—specifically, a meningioma. These are slow-growing tumors that can usually be treated with surgery. Baby recovered well from his surgery and went on to live to almost 20 years old.
Penny, a 2-year-old female spayed Maltese, presented to Southeast Veterinary Neurology for episodes of trembling and discomfort in 2015. An MRI was performed and she was diagnosed with a form of inflammatory brain disease called meningoencephalitis. Penny receives monthly cytosar infusions to manage the disease and is now more active, more lively and has more energy.
Dolce took a fall down the stairs just nine days before being brought to us for treatment. The 3-year-old Chihuahua became weak in her back limbs a few days later, and her back was unusually arched. After being taken to the local after-hours emergency hospital for vomiting and rolling repeatedly onto her right side, she was referred to us for evaluation. After a thorough physical and neurological exam, we determined that Dolce had vestibular disease. An MRI showed us that brain inflammation, or encephalitis, was the cause.
After 3-year-old Maltese mix Charlie had four seizures in one day, the local emergency hospital he was taken to recommended he visit Southeast Veterinary Neurology. He did not respond to touch or visual stimuli from his right side, and tended to turn his head toward the left. An MRI revealed inflammation in his brain or encephalitis. Treatment involved medication for immune suppression and Charlie made a full recovery.
Not long after having a short anesthetic procedure to remove a skin growth, 8-month-old Rottweiler Nico became unusually sleepy and wobbled when he walked. By the next day, Nico could not stand up or walk at all, and he was brought to SEVN for a thorough exam. We diagnosed him with narcolepsy/cataplexy. Narcolepsy involves “sleep attacks” and drowsiness, while cataplexy is a short period of paralysis caused by excitement. We treated Nico with medication, and he was once more alert and able to stand and walk on his own.
Lupa, a 10-year-old female Chihuahua, had weakness on her right side and difficulty walking. Soon, the problem progressed to all four legs. While alert, responsive, and able to move her legs, she was not strong enough to walk. Therefore, we determined that her cervical spinal cord was the source of the problem. An MRI confirmed a meningioma (a noncancerous tumor arising from the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord), which we removed with the owner’s consent. Lupa recovered from surgery and regained her ability to walk.
Max, a 10-year-old male Boxer, was off balance and uncoordinated with a head tilt to the left. Max’s owner, a veterinarian, conducted tests and prescribed antibiotics for a possible ear infection. When symptoms did not improve, Max was presented to Southeast Veterinary Neurology and an MRI showed a brain tumor, which we surgically removed. Within days of surgery, Max was catching treats and acting like himself again.
Subarachnoid diverticulum is one of the most common causes of mid-back spinal cord issues in the Pug breed. Wellington, a 12-year-old male Pug, came to us with a 2-month history of wobbliness in his rear limbs. We performed an MRI of his spine, which showed a pocket of fluid (not a cyst) compressing the spinal cord. Surgery was chosen as the best treatment option for Wellington, and we got to work stabilizing his spine and reducing compression on the spinal cord. Wellington made a full recovery and was still normal at his seven-month follow-up.