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What is veterinary neurology?

Wondering what veterinary neurology is and how it could help your pet? Read on to learn more about this advanced area of veterinary medicine.

Caring for The Central Nervous System of Pets

Neurology is a specialized area of veterinary medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the central nervous system of pets. 

Your pet's central nervous system includes their spinal cord and their brain but within those 2 areas there is a lot going on:

  • The spinal cord of dogs and cats is divided into various regions (in order from neck to tail): cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and caudal segments.
  • The brain also has multiple regions controlling different aspects of your animal's behavior, overall health, and basic life functions including:
    • The cerebrum, which is the center of conscious decision-making
    • The cerebellum, which is involved in movement and motor control
  • Specialized tissues called the meninges that cover the brain and spinal cord, as well as the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.

Why does my pet need to see a veterinary neurologist?

If your primary care vet has referred your pet to a neurology specialist it's because they believe that your pet is suffering from a condition related to the health of their central nervous system (their brain or their spine).

Symptoms that can prompt your vet to refer your pet to a neurology specialist include:

  • Abnormal gait, unexplained weakness or paralysis
  • Spinal pain
  • Seizures and movement problems
  • Loss of balance
  • Cognitive or behavioral changes

What are some common neurological conditions in dogs and cats?

Conditions that fall under the neurology category include:

  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Epilepsy (seizures)
  • Some cancers
  • Some degenerative disorders
  • Spinal or brain trauma
  • Peripheral nerve diseases

What can a veterinary neurologist do that my regular vet can't?

Board-certified veterinary neurologists receive years of extra education and testing in this specialized field. As such they possess a more detailed understanding of conditions relating to your pet's nervous system and are able to perform more advanced testing.

Advanced neurology services may include:

  • A detailed consultation regarding the brain, spinal cord and neuromuscular issues that your pet is experiencing, such as intervertebral disc disease and other causes of weakness or paralysis, seizure management, encephalitis, tumors, and disorders of hearing or balance
  • Advanced Imaging
  • Cerebrospinal fluid collection and analysis
  • Electrodiagnostic evaluations including electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction velocity (NCV), electroencephalography (EEG) and brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER)
  • Neurosurgery including hemilaminectomy, ventral slot procedure, craniotomy, stereotactic-guided brain biopsy, ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement, stabilization and fusion procedures, fracture repair, nerve and muscle biopsies
  • Ultrasound-guided surgery and other procedures

What are the benefits of visiting a pet neurologist?

There are numerous benefits to having your pet seen by a specialist, including:

  • Advanced experience in diagnosing and treating a wide range of neurological disorders in pets
  • Specialist veterinary hospitals are often equipped with state-of-the-art equipment not commonly found in a family vet's office.
  • Patient-focused care spotlighting quality of life when dealing with complex neurological disorders.
  • Technology to provide animals with image-guided surgeries and treatments to help achieve the best possible outcomes.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes. The services listed in this post may not be offered by the hospital.

If your pet is showing signs of a neurological condition, contact our Tucson specialty vets right away.

What is veterinary neurology?

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