Spinal Surgery in Norwalk, CA

Depending on the cause and the severity of signs, spinal issues may be managed medically or surgically or both. These issues will always require medications, even with surgery.

Your veterinarian will perform a full orthopedic and neurologic exam to understand the cause of your dog’s symptoms. Diagnostic tests such as x-rays and advanced imaging like a CT scan or MRI are often needed.

In many cases, a referral to a board-certified veterinary surgeon and/or neurologist is required to not only confirm a diagnosis but to provide medical and surgical care.

If your dog has lost feeling in their limbs or lost the ability to move them, and the cause of spinal disease has been established, then surgery may be recommended. The goal for surgery is to alleviate pain and increase your dog’s likelihood of a good quality of life (compared to if surgery was not performed).

Dog spinal surgery is a highly specialized skill that not all veterinarians are trained for. If your dog needs spinal surgery, it will likely be performed by a board-certified surgeon or veterinary neurologist, and it may need to be performed on an emergency basis at a specialized veterinary hospital or university.

Pain Management

Post-surgery, all dogs will require good pain management. When your dog is discharged to your care, be sure you understand what medication they are expected to receive and how often. Ask the veterinarian to explain the pain-management plan and signs that might suggest your dog is in pain, such as:

  • Vocalizing
  • Whining
  • Reluctance to move
  • Trembling
  • Shaking

Monitoring Urination

Some dogs will require more intensive care than others. If your dog was unable to urinate before surgery, then they may require assistance for some time afterward. This involves putting pressure on the abdomen to manually release urine from the bladder. In the hospital, a urinary catheter may be used.

Rest and Activity Restriction

After spinal surgery, your dog needs a quiet and comfortable place to rest at home. An orthopedic bed can be very helpful in these cases.

Activity restriction will likely be recommended for several weeks, which means short leash walks and keeping your dog confined to prevent running, jumping, or stair-climbing. Your veterinary surgeon will provide specific instructions on the type of movement that is okay for your dog.

Physical Therapy and Rehab

Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises are often recommended. In some cases, your vet may offer physical therapy services at the hospital. Your vet will also need to follow up with your dog to check their progress.  

If your dog lost the ability to stand and walk on their own before surgery, it may take several weeks before you see some improvement in their mobility. Use of a sling or other type of support device may be recommended by their vet.

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