You come home from work and go to take your dog on a run with you. But as soon as you put him on the leash you notice that he is dragging his back legs and starts to urinate on the floor. This is a possible sign of tetraparesis and can become tetraplegia in dogs. You should take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.
Tetraplegia, also called quadriplegia is a neurological disorder in which all four limbs are paralyzed. Not to be confused with Tetraparesis which is when all four limbs are weak.
The brain, spine, nerves and muscles need to work together through a complex communication system. If something in that communication system is not working properly, you may see signs in your dog. A veterinarian needs the dog’s history, any signs that you have seen that are out of the ordinary and a neurological exam needs to be done to find the cause.
Causes are general lower motor diseases, cervical or cervicothoracic. General lower motor disease examples include tick paralysis, botulism and polyradiculoneuritis. Cervical refers to C1-C5 of a dog’s spine. Cervicothoracic refers to C6-T2 of a dog’s spine.
Once the cause is determined your veterinarian will be able to give you guidance on how to treat your dog. With rehabilitation your dog will hopefully regain full mobility. Your dog may need to use a dog wheelchair to assist in maintaining stability and being able to move while recovering.
Until then caution must be taken to not allow your dog access to stairs. It is important however, to encourage your dog to move in order to help them regain movement in their legs.