Expectation for spinal cord healing - Premier website for Dog Back Disease (IVDD)


Expectation for spinal cord healing

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Neuro Corner Answers

Dr. Andrew Isaacs
DVM Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)
Dogwood Veterinary Referral Center

Primary interests include intervertebral disc disease, seizure management, luxations/fractures of the spine, and surgery for brain tumors



My dog is currently in recovery, he had deep pain sensation before surgery as far as I was aware. He had been wagging his tail on Sunday. The herniation occurred on Saturday at 1.30am (so Sunday really) I phoned the vet straight away but she said to take him out in morning.

Unfortunately she misdiagnosed a torn ACL and referred me to a specialist on Monday. At 10 am on Monday I saw the specialist and she said it was spinal and referred me on to another specialist. By 6pm on Monday he had his Myelogram but they couldn’t perform surgery that night as he had been under too long already. Surgery was performed on Tuesday later than expected as I think they wanted to ensure he had recovered properly from the anesthetic from Monday and he was awake and looking around him by 8pm on Tuesday night. I know it wasn’t in the ideal time frame unfortunately, if I had known earlier he would’ve been seen earlier but hopefully it doesn’t affect his chances. Would they have given medication to prevent deterioration in this time?

The vet said they are happy with him and the surgery but he hasn’t regained motion in his legs yet but it has only been 29 hours. I need to ring to find out more tomorrow as I haven’t been thinking clearly when on phone to ask right questions. He is about 150 miles away or something as it is only place does this surgery and I am going to visit on Friday now. I am obviously very worried and I’m hoping to see signs of improvement.

If he does walk again can I still take him on walks when he is better?

And is he more likely to re-learn that he needs to pee than to walk?

I just want him to be ok and pain free and if that means wheels that is ok too. It’s not ideal but which comes first, bladder control or walking?

This is just a horrible time I don’t have insurance of course (hindsight!) but I will get help to pay his bills off for now. I am very worried about future incidences but I will do what I can to prevent this. It’s all so horrible and worrying I hope he is ok. If he wags his tail on Friday I will be elated. Thank you for taking the time to read this I just need some answers I hope I have provided enough information.


Ciara, hope all is going well with your dog.  I know it is hard, but the time that sets the tone for his recovery is the first 2 to 4 weeks after surgery.  Not that there is not continued improvement after 2-4 weeks, but I would not want you to get discouraged until at least 2-4 weeks have gone by without any signs of improvement – the spinal cord takes time to heal.

You definitely can take him on walks when your vet lifts the post-operative restrictions.  The key is to make sure your dog is on a leash with harness to help prevent higher impact movements on the walk.

Typically, we will see dogs start to voluntarily urinate when they start to get movement in their legs.  It does not have to be enough movement to walk though.  So, urination usually precedes walking.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Andrew Isaacs, DVM
Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)

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