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Animal Neurology: What Are The Common Signs of Neurological Disorders in Dogs?

What is the most common neurological disorder in dogs?

How To Test My Dog Has a Neurological Issue? 

Nobody ever wants to think about their beloved pet developing a neurological condition, which is why pet parents dread neurological disorders in dogs. Sadly, dogs, just like humans, are susceptible to severe health problems that affect their nervous system.

Many neurological disorders can affect dogs, and when symptoms start to appear, it can be heartbreaking and very distressing for owners to see their dogs in such pain or discomfort.

The best way to give them a fighting chance of recovery from a neurological condition is to know and understand the signs. Being able to spot problems with your dog’s health very early on will allow you to act fast by taking them to a specialist in animal neurology.

Early detection of neurological problems is crucial because it allows for prompt intervention and appropriate treatment. Timely diagnosis enables veterinarians to develop customized treatment plans, which may include medication, physical therapy, or surgery.

Veterinarians with expertise in neurology can recognize the signs of sudden neurological problems in dogs and conduct thorough examinations, including neurological assessments, to identify potential problems.

With early intervention, veterinarians can halt or slow the progression of certain disorders, improving the overall prognosis and quality of life for the pet.

Always keep in mind that your pet needs you to heal and access treatment. Just because they are animals, it does not mean they will heal and recover naturally from severe conditions. Your pet needs care and specialized attention as much as any other living being.

What is the most common neurological disorder in dogs?: How Do You Know?

Neurological disorders in dogs are diseases that impact the peripheral nervous system, meaning:

  • The spinal cord.
  • The brain.
  • The nerves.

These disorders can manifest in various ways, affecting the normal functioning of these crucial components of the dog’s nervous system.

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of neurological disorders in dogs, as they can range from seizures and mobility issues to changes in behavior and coordination.

Prompt identification and veterinary care are crucial for diagnosing and managing these conditions effectively.

How Does Your Dog Neurological System Work?

Dogs have a complex and incredible neurological system that allows them to perceive and interact with the world. It represents a fundamental part of their body because it is responsible for several functions, such as processing and transmitting information to help them move, respond to stimuli, regulate their vital functions, and learn from experiences.

It is very important for a dog’s health and behavior to have a properly functionating neurological system because it allows them to walk, play, jump, and interact with their beloved ones.

Any issues or damage to the neurological system can lead to various neurological disorders in dogs, affecting their quality of life and potentially even leading to life-threatening conditions.

What Are the Parts of a Dog’s Nervous System?

A dog’s nervous system can be divided into two different categories that are related to each other, the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). Let’s explore these further:

Central Nervous System:

To understand this better, we can imagine the Central Nervous System as the control center of a dog’s brain, which includes several parts, such as the spinal cords and the nerves. Some of their essential functions are coordinating responses, processing and transmitting information throughout their whole body and regulating bodily functions.

Peripheral Nervous System:

The Peripheral Nervous System refers to the nerves that connect the Central Nervous System to the rest of the dog’s body, allowing it to send information to the muscles and organs. Basically, this system works as a bridge between the brain and the rest of the body.

Furthermore, it is the combination of these two systems that help our beloved friends to enjoy the world, interact with their environment, and answer to new experiences with their loved ones. This is why it is important to be aware in case you notice any neurological symptoms in your dog.

Understanding Your Dog’s Neurological System

If you are wondering how your dog’s nervous system work, here’s a little guide that can help you understand how the different parts of their system work:


It is the principal organ of the nervous system that receives and processes sensory information to coordinate the dog’s responses. The brain controls several functions in the body, such as voluntary movements, memory, perception, and cognition.

Spinal Cord:

It refers to the structure that connects the brain to the peripheral nerves. The spinal cord is a long and tubular pathway that allows the signal of the brain to reach the different parts of the dog’s body. It is responsible for the reflex actions that produce the responses to external stimuli.


The nerves are an important part of the neurological system of a dog, which allows the signals of the brain to travel back and forth throughout the whole body, reaching several tissues, sensory receptors, and organs.

In other words, the brain produces information and transmits it through the spinal cord and peripheral nerves to produce appropriate responses according to the activity of neurons and neurotransmitters.

If your pet is not answering properly to external stimuli, it might be caused by neurological problems in your dog that need to be addressed immediately.

What Are Signs of Neurological Disorders in Dogs?

what Are The Most Common Neurological Symptoms Disorders In Dogs

Neurological disorders in pets can range from seizures and epilepsy to spinal cord injuries, brain tumors, and degenerative conditions. Many of these disorders may initially manifest with subtle symptoms that could easily go unnoticed by pet owners.

Seizures can present as sudden episodes of uncontrolled shaking, convulsions, loss of consciousness, or abnormal behaviors.

Other signs are difficulty walking or coordinating movements, abnormal eye movements, loss of balance, head tilt, altered behavior, or appetite. Pets may also exhibit changes in sensory perception, like less responsiveness to touch or pain and disorientation.

Neurological disorders that affect the nerves may cause facial paralysis or a loss of function in the tongue. Your dog may also possibly lose the ability to blink.

Disorders that are associated with the spinal cord may cause your dog not to feel pain in certain limbs. They may have a problem with bladder or bowel control, unsteady gait, or paralysis of the front or back limbs. If your dog is suffering from any form of seizures, tremors, blindness, or tilting of the head, then this could be symptomatic of a brain disorder.

Neurological Disorder Problems In Dogs: Common Consequences?

Seizures in Dogs

Seizures in dogs can have three primary causes. The first cause is related to issues like low blood sugar or calcium deficiency, which veterinarians can identify through blood tests.

The second cause doctors attribute to brain tumors or infections. And lastly, dogs can suffer seizures due to epilepsy, which the veterinarian can manage with medication, similar to humans, to control the symptoms.

Spinal Disease in Dogs

Spinal disease in dogs, known as myelopathy, can encompass a range of issues, from pain to paralysis.

Since the spinal cord plays a crucial role in transmitting information throughout the body, neurologists often employ imaging techniques like MRI or CT scans to identify the underlying cause of the problem.

Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Vestibular disease in dogs can cause issues with balance and coordination, indicating a problem with the vestibular system.

This can stem from either the peripheral system (inner ear) or the central system (brainstem). To provide comfort, anti-nausea medications are commonly part of the treatment for affected dogs.

Wobbler Syndrome in Dogs

Wobbler syndrome is a condition commonly seen in larger dog breeds and characterizes by problems in the vertebrae. Dogs with this condition may exhibit a progressively deteriorating gait.

Treatment options for wobbler syndrome may involve the use of steroids or surgical intervention.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral Dis Disease (IVDD) in dogs characterizes by back pain and impaired coordination, often due to the hardening of the material between the discs in the spine.

The discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, can become compressed or herniated, leading to discomfort and neurological symptoms.

Depending on the severity, treatment for IVDD may involve rest, pain management, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or in more severe cases, surgical intervention. Early detection is crucial in minimizing its impact on the dog’s mobility.

How to Test for Neurological Disorders in Dogs

If you suspect your pet may be experiencing symptoms of a neurological condition, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. The sudden onset of symptoms can be distressing for both you and your dog.

The veterinarian will gather comprehensive information about your pet’s history and the condition’s progression to make an accurate diagnosis, which is essential in determining the appropriate treatment.

During the consultation, the vet will ask specific questions to understand the situation better. These inquiries may include the onset of symptoms, pain levels, existing medical problems, current medications, past medical issues, previous injuries, travels, etc.

To assess the dog’s reflexes and nerve responses, the canine neurologist will conduct a thorough physical examination.

Common Treatment of Neurological Treatment in Dogs:

First, it is essential to understand that the treatment for neurological issues in dogs may vary depending on the unique situation or condition of your pet. However, the most common treatments may include:

1. Procedures or Surgeries:

These procedures are delicate, and a specialist needs to perform them, such as a neurologist, who is going to diagnose your dog’s condition through exams like MRI or CT. We understand that this situation can be scary, but sometimes procedures like surgery can be the best option for your pet.

It is crucial for the treatment that you understand the consequences of surgery and follow the recommendations and instructions that the professional gives you.

2. Lifestyle modifications:

There are some lifestyle modifications that you can apply to your pet’s life, including dietary restrictions and a lot of exercise to keep your dog healthy and expand their life expectancy. In addition, you can help them with nutritional supplements that can improve the health of your furry friend.

3. Medicines:

There are treatments that are least invasive than surgery, such as medicines. For instance, dogs who suffer from seizure disorders or spinal cord compression may need treatments like anti-epileptic meds or anti-inflammatories that can help their situation. However, these medicines can have side effects that might include panting, increased thirst, and appetite.

If you suspect any neurological problem in your dog, it is essential to seek veterinary attention, which can help you diagnose the disease. Early intervention can lead to better outcomes, and it can save your pet’s life. Your pets deserve to receive the best care in time.

Dog Neurological Disorders Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a dog with a neurological disorder can vary depending on the specific condition, its severity, and the effectiveness of treatment.

Some neurological disorders can significantly impact a dog’s lifespan, while others may be manageable with proper care. With timely and effective treatment, it is possible to extend a pet’s life and improve their quality of life.

Treatment of Neurological Disorder in Dogs

Treatment options may include medications to manage symptoms, surgery, rehabilitation therapy, and supportive care. These interventions can help alleviate pain, slow down disease progression, improve mobility and coordination, control seizures, and more.

With proper care, many dogs with neurological disorders can enjoy a fulfilling life and may have similar life expectancies to dogs without such conditions.

Neurological Issue in Dogs – BrightCare Animal Neurology

We hope you found our animal neurology blog educational. If you feel that your dog may have a neurological disorder, contact our emergency vet service in Trabuco Canyon, CA.

If you would like more information about neurology, you can find information on our BrightCare Animal Neurology website.