If your pet suddenly cannot move one or more parts of its body, you are understandably concerned. Full or partial paralysis is not a wait-and-see neurological symptom, so there is something you can (and should) do right away—bring your dog or cat to The Animal Neurology & Imaging Center (The ANIC) for emergency care.
What Paralysis May Look Like in Your Pet
Dogs and cats may experience full or partial paralysis. To pet owners, it may present as:
- Your pet dragging their hind legs but having full use of their front legs
- Complete inability to move
Some neurological conditions progress, leading up to paralysis. Symptoms that may precede paralysis include:
- Your pet stepping on, tripping over or dragging their own toes when they walk
- Difficulty moving (similar to arthritic soreness)
When you first notice any presentation of neurological symptoms, contact The ANIC to determine if your pet needs emergency care or can wait for a scheduled appointment.
What Paralysis May Indicate about Your Pet’s Health
Paralysis as a neurological symptom may indicate a number of possible conditions, including:
- Degenerative disease
- Infection (bacterial, fungal or viral)
It is possible that paralysis may stem from neuromuscular issues and/or neurotoxins (possibly from a tick bite) that affects motor control.
The Steps to Getting Your Pet Help
In order to get your pet the help they need to restore mobility, an accurate diagnosis must be made. For most animals, an MRI is required to see what anatomic abnormalities may be causing the paralysis. The cause of the paralysis determines how urgently treatment is needed.
Pet owners can rest assured that their pet will get the specialized care they need at any of our clinic locations. We strive to schedule all diagnostic and, if necessary, surgical procedures the same day or day after you contact us.
Cautions to Pet Owners with a Paralyzed Pet
There are other medical conditions that may look like paralysis. However, it is imperative that you do not attempt to diagnose your pet’s condition on your own. Whether your pet’s inability to move is neurological or not, they must be seen as soon as possible by a trained medical professional.
To facilitate the timely diagnosis and treatment of your pet, contact us so that we can mobilize our staff for your pet’s arrival. Please avoid feeding your dog or cat before taking them to The ANIC if possible. MRIs are often required but cannot be performed until the animal has fasted for 12 hours (except as needed on an emergency basis).