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Does my pet have a neurological issue?

Neurological issues can affect pets of any age or breed and symptoms vary, so it's important for pet parents to know the signs. In this post, you'll read about signs that your pet may be suffering from a neurological issue.

What are neurological issues?

Neurology is a specialized area of veterinary medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the central nervous system of pets. Neurological issues are conditions and diseases that block or negatively affect the ability of your pet's central nervous system to communicate properly with various parts of your pet's body.

Your pet's central nervous system includes their spinal cord and 3 sections within the brain:

  • The brain stem which controls many basic life functions.
  • The cerebrum that is in command of decision-making.
  • The cerebellum that helps to coordinate your pet's movement and motor control.

Signs of Neurological Issues in Pets

Because your pet's central nervous system controls basic life functions, decision making and coordinated movement, the signs of neurological issues vary depending on which part of the central nervous system is affected. That said, some of the most common signs of neurological issues in pets include:

  • Unusual or jerky eye movements
  • Abnormal gait, unexplained weakness or paralysis
  • Foot dragging or knuckling of paws
  • Pain along the spine, neck or back
  • Head tilt or leaning
  • Seizures of different kinds
  • Loss of balance
  • Scratching at the air without making contact with their body
  • Cognitive or behavioral changes
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation such as staring into space or getting stuck in corners

Common Neurological Conditions in Pets

There are a number of neurological conditions that can affect cats and dogs including:

  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Canine Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Stroke
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Epilepsy (seizures)
  • Cancer
  • Degenerative disorders
  • Spinal or brain trauma
  • Peripheral nerve diseases

How a Veterinary Neurologist Can Help

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

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, we provide emergency care for pets 7 days a week. Contact our Tucson vets if your pet needs emergency or specialist care.

Does my pet have a neurological issue?

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