Canine Spinal Cord Injury Program
“The Canine Spinal Cord Injury Program is dedicated to improving the outcome of acute and chronic spinal cord injuries in dogs.”
The spinal cord conveys information to and from the brain to produce movement, sensation, urination, and defecation. Spinal cord injuries are a common problem in dogs, accounting for approximately 2% of all cases that present to the veterinarian. They are most commonly caused by disc herniations, trauma, spinal stenosis and instability, and vascular (stroke like) events. Spinal cord tissue does not regenerate effectively and therefore the consequences of an injury can be devastating. Dogs can make an excellent recovery after injury if the damage to the spinal cord is partial (incomplete) because the surviving nerves are able to take over the function of the nerves that have been lost. However, the more severe the injury, the less effective the recovery, and complete injuries, that result in transection of the spinal cord, thus cutting off all communications between the spinal cord and the brain, result in permanent paralysis.
The Canine Spinal Cord Injury Program is developing and testing methods of improving outcome from both incomplete and complete spinal cord injuries in dogs. Our efforts include limiting the extent of damage that occurs immediately after an injury using neuroprotective drugs, and restoring function to damaged nerves using potassium channel blockers. We are also investigating the reparative potential of autologous stem cells (cells derived from the patient), and developing new methods of quantifying recovery. Finally, we are constantly improving our post operative care of patients with regards to nutrition, pain control, management of the bladder, and physical rehabilitation.