Nerve healing


Nerve regeneration has no time limit

REGAINING NEUROLOGICAL FUNCTION has no time limit for nerves to heal. Nerve repair is individual as each injury is different and each dog’s ability to heal is different.  If a perception of deep pain sensation (DPS) is present, even in paralyzed legs, there is a good chance your dog may be able to walk again. For those dogs who have lost DPS, do know nerve regeneration can take place and that function may return.
Once DPS is regained, that bodes well more more self healing nerves. Thousands of dogs on Dodgerslist have regained functions in as little as 2 weeks, others 11 months, and still others 3 years later. IVDD is a disease of patience to allow the body to heal on its own terms. Acupuncture and Laser Therapy stimulate the cell’s metabolism that leads to the body’s natural repair abilities.
Once nerves have repaired then muscles will also have to be retrained to relearn proper placement of the paws. Some muscles will need to regain strength for walking. Consider learning to walk again as it would be for a stroke victim or a baby learning to walk. At first, the steps will be weak and a bit unstable. Relearning to walk takes coordination, building up strength, and lots of patience.
There is no timetable anyone can give you when to expect nerve repair to happen.

In fact, there is no time limit for nerves to heal…it can take weeks to more like a year or even longer. However, it is known that neurological function usually returns in the reverse order of the damage. The first big sign you want to look for is that wonderful tail wag!

Nerves heal most often heal in the reverse order of how neuro function was lost.

True success with IVDD is measured by the most important goal of returning your dog to a pain free, happy and full-of-love quality of life after surgery or conservative treatment. Should paralysis occur, please know that dogs do not view the lack of ability to walk as a minus as humans do. Dogs adjust to what is and then get on with the business of fully enjoying all that life has to offer until nerves repair! Learn how to re-think things!

  • 1) Nerve Healing Order
  • 2) What Neuros & Orthos Say
  1. ▪️Deep Pain Sensation (DPS) is the first neuro function to return. DPS is the critical indicator for nerves to be able to self heal after surgery or with conservative treatment. Trust only the word of a neuro (ACVIM) or ortho (ACVS) surgeon about this very tricky to correctly idenfiy neuro function.
  2. ▪️Tail wagging with joy at seeing you or getting a treat or meal.
  3. ▪️Bladder and bowel control verified with the “sniff and pee” test. (Take your dog out to an old pee spot in the grass. Let him sniff and then observe for a release of urine.)
  4. ▪️Leg Movement, and then ability to move up into a stand by themselves, and then wobbly walking.
  5. ▪️Being able to walk with more steadiness and properly place the feet.
  6. ▪️Ability to walk unassisted and perhaps even run.

There is no way to predict when function will return or how much function will be recovered. They may never return to normal function, however they can rejoin family events and activities according to their functional capacity. Even permanently paralyzed dogs can have an excellent quality of life and maintain their mobility in a cart.   ——Dr. Kathleen E. Collins, DVM, ortho surgeon (ACVS) 

I typically give a month before I make any judgement on whether or not deep pain will come back. Keep giving time and be positive…I do have some patients that take longer.  ——Dr. Michael A. Wong, DVM, ACVIM (Neurology)

Nerve regeneration depends upon the degree of injury to the nerves. Typically, at 6 months most of the healing has plateaued, but some cases take up to several years. ——Dr. Isaacs, DVM, ACVIM (Neurology) 

The time taken from injury to return of independent function may be up to 3 months although improvement will still continue six months after surgery. In this latter stage the rate of improvement is slower and the process is more subtle, but it will happen.  ——Dr. Andy Torrington, BVMS , CertSAO MRCVS 

Nerve damage


This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the dog IVDD community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice and all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.

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