Fracture of the Spine in Dogs

Fracture of the Spine in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Fracture of the Spine in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Fracture of the Spine?

Often pets who present with spinal fractures are also at risk of other life-threatening conditions such as internal hemorrhage as a result of the trauma that caused the spinal fracture. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from a spinal fracture, it is vital you contact a veterinarian immediately.

Fracture of the spine in dogs can occur following trauma such as attack from another animal, fall, or a following a road traffic incident. Following the trauma, it is common for neurological deterioration over hours or days after. Spinal fractures can result in varied severity of symptoms, from pain to complete paralysis.

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Fracture of the Spine Average Cost

From 459 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$10,000

Symptoms of Fracture of the Spine in Dogs

  • Pain on the spine
  • Other evidence of trauma (shredded nails in the occurrence of vehicular collision or bite wounds from attack)
  • Spinal hyperesthesia
  • Signs of pain
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Inability or reluctance to walk
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Causes of Fracture of the Spine in Dogs

The spinal cord is protected by the vertebrae; impact that crushes or changes this structure can lead to spinal cord injury. Although the occurrence of this injury is acute, secondary damage often occurs in the 24 - 48 hour time frame following the trauma, and in some cases damage can continue months to years after. Spinal fractures are more common in young dogs who lack in road sense and intact  males which may be more likely to wander due to mating urge.

Causes of spinal fractures may be:

  • Road traffic accidents 
  • Gunshot injury 
  • Fall from height
  • Animal attack, small dogs are known to present with spinal fractures after being shaken by the neck by larger dogs
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Diagnosis of Fracture of the Spine in Dogs

Due to the potential of the presence of other life-threatening conditions your veterinarian will carefully examine your dog's:

  • Respiratory and heart rate and rhythm
  • Capillary refill times and peripheral perfusion
  • Ability to mobilize and react to pain sensation, particularly lower limbs
  • Mental capacity and consciousness

Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s well-being, if respiratory or cardiovascular distress are apparent the initial focus will be to stabilize these systems. Your veterinarian will discuss your pet’s clinical history with you, if you witnessed the incident that caused the injury, when it occurred, and your pet’s behavior following the trauma. 

Radiographs will be performed to visualize your pet’s spinal column, it may be possible for these to be performed while he is awake, however sedation is necessary in some cases. Magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography may also be utilized to check for other lesions or soft tissue conditions.

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Treatment of Fracture of the Spine in Dogs

The initial treatment for your dog will be stabilization. If respiratory distress or cardiovascular distress are present intravenous fluids, oxygen and appropriate medications may be necessary. 

To provide pain relief your pet will likely be given opiate analgesia. His bladder function will be carefully monitored following spinal injury, during in-patient care your pet’s bedding will be assessed for signs of urinary incontinence and his bladder palpated to determine if your dog is effectively emptying his bladder. If your dog is unable to control urination, manual expression will be required to prevent further complications.

Non-surgical Treatment

Your veterinarian may recommend non-surgical treatment for your pet which may require cage confinement and exercise restriction for 6-8 weeks. Your veterinarian may choose to utilize external support bandages to provide spinal stability, it is vital in these cases that this is kept clean and dry.

Surgical Treatment

Your pet may require surgical treatment to stabilize his spine, this is considered the most effective technique with the most common types of internal fixation being metal screws, wires, and pins. 

Nursing Care

In either surgical or non-surgical treatment nursing care is essential to support your pet’s recovery. The following steps should be taken:

  • Soft, water-proof bedding should be provided and regularly changed to prevent urine scalding and prevent bed sores
  • Your dog should be regularly turned to prevent bed sores and atelectasis – your veterinarian should regularly auscultate your pet’s lungs 
  • Highly palatable foods should be given to encourage nutrition
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Worried about the cost of Fracture Of The Spine treatment?

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Recovery of Fracture of the Spine in Dogs

To aid your companion’s recovery the following steps may be taken:

  • Provide a safe non-slip area for your pet to resume walking and provide assistance as needed, slings to provide support may be necessary
  • Therapy such as physiotherapy, acupuncture and hydrotherapy may be beneficial for your pet’s recovery
  • Wound care as needed if surgery has taken place

Your pet should regularly revisit the veterinarian for follow up evaluations, in some cases repeat radiographs may be necessary. Following healing, your veterinarian will discuss exercising your pet, it is vital that this is done gradually with careful attention paid to how your pet is tolerating this. 

A canine who has suffered from a spinal fracture often has a guarded prognosis. During initial examination the presence or absence of sensation may indicate prognosis, unfortunately for those pets that do not experience deep pain sensation the chance of recovery is poor. For dogs who demonstrate sensation, urinary and bowel continence and ability to mobilize, improvement 4 - 6 weeks following the trauma may be seen.

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Fracture of the Spine Average Cost

From 459 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$10,000

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Fracture of the Spine Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Cockapoo

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Four Years

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3 found helpful

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3 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Concave Chest

Hi, we are thinking about adoptinga 4 year old cockapoo that has had in the past a broken vertebrate but it went untreated but it is back to normal activities now. It happened earlier in the year. Will there be complications down the road because of this.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without knowing more about the injury, I have a very hard time commenting on whether any long term problems may occur. If he is back to normal now, he is likely fine, but it would be a good idea to have a veterinarian examine him before you adopt him if you are concerned. I hope that all goes well for him!

Oct. 5, 2020

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Terripoo

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Eleven Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Broken Vertebrae In Neck And Possible Esophagus Tear Both From A Dog Attack

Emergency vet said maybe best to put her down. She is only 8 pounds and in pain. They have her heavily medicated with pain meds. Is it best to have her euthanized?

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry for her injuries, and for your loss.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Fracture of the Spine Average Cost

From 459 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$10,000

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