Don’t Ignore These Common Neurological Problems in PetsDon’t Ignore These Common Neurological Problems in Pets
Veterinary neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with diagnosing and treating nervous system disorders in animals. The nervous system includes the muscles, brain, nerves, and spinal cord. Neurological problems can be caused by injury, disease, or abnormal development. They can affect any part of the nervous system and cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe.
As a responsible human companion to your pets, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of common neurological disorders to get your cats or dogs the help they need as soon as possible.
Here are five of the most common neurological diseases in pets:
Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system that causes recurrent seizures. It varies in severity, from mild twitching to violent convulsions. Pets with epilepsy may also experience changes in behavior, such as aggression or anxiety.
While there’s no cure for epilepsy, it can be managed with medication. If your animal companion has been diagnosed with epilepsy, work closely with your veterinarian to find the best treatment plan.
This is a condition wherein the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord are inflamed. It is caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. Symptoms of meningitis include:
- Stiff neck
Meningitis can be fatal if not given attention promptly. If you suspect your pet has meningitis, take them to an emergency vet immediately, like Animal Emergency & Referral Center.
3. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
IVDD is a spine disorder that results in the rupture or herniation of one or more intervertebral discs. It’s most common in dogs, particularly smaller breeds two years older and above, like Dachshunds, Poodles, and Beagles. However, larger breeds can also be affected.
Symptoms of IVDD include:
- Loss of coordination
The best way to prevent IVDD is by keeping your dog at a healthy weight and avoiding activities that put unnecessary strain on their back, such as jumping up and down from furniture. If your dog develops IVDD, it may need surgery to repair the damaged disc(s).
That’s why you must see your vet regularly because they can see early signs of illnesses and recommend treatment that may help prevent the condition from progressing. Some of these can be diet, therapy, and supplements.
For instance, they can recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy for animals with critical problems. This therapy can help improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation, promoting healing. Learn more here about how it works.
Dementia, or cognitive decline, is a common neurological condition in older pets. It’s similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans and can cause a decline in mental function, including memory, learning, and awareness. Pets with dementia may also experience changes in behavior, such as increased anxiety or aggression.
There is no cure for dementia, but there are ways to manage it and make your pet more comfortable. These include:
- Environmental enrichment (e.g., providing toys and puzzle feeders)
- Weight management
If you think your pet may display signs of dementia, talk to your veterinarian about the best way to proceed.
5. Canine Distemper
Canine distemper is a viral disease affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Puppies are usually affected but can also attack adult dogs. It is extremely contagious and can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Symptoms of canine distemper include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Muscle twitching
If you believe your dog has canine distemper, take them to the vet immediately. There is no cure for the disease, but early treatment can improve the chances of survival. Treatment typically includes supportive care to help relieve symptoms and prevent secondary infections.
Prevention is the best and most effective way to protect your dog from distemper. They should be updated on their vaccinations and avoid contact with other dogs that may be infected.
Keep in Mind
These are just five of the many conditions that can affect your pet’s brain and nervous system.
Once you see any of the signs, it’s important to see your veterinarian right away. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in the outcome for your pet.