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Canine Spinal Cord Injury

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 nerve injury
  • restoring function to damaged nerves
  • optimizing rehabilitation
  • controlling pain

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. The consequences of spinal cord injury include weakness or paralysis, pain and incontinence. Our program is interested in three different areas, the first is traumatic injury to the spinal cord, the second is more chronic degenerative injuries including neurodegenerative diseases comparable to ALS, and the third is disorders that produce pain syndromes.

Injury is most commonly caused by a disc herniation, 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 Laboratory is part of the Neurology program at NC State Veterinary Medicine. In addition to providing specialized neurological care to patients of the NC State Veterinary Hospital, faculty train veterinary students interesting in specializing in the field of veterinary neurology.

Canine Paralympics

The annual NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine Canine Paralympics raises awareness of spinal cord injury in dogs, and celebrates how dogs can live happily despite a severe spinal cord injury. Learn more about this event and the progress we’re making in treating canine spinal chord injury by following us on Facebook.

Follow us and find out about what’s coming up and how to get involved!

Little Heroes

Trial participants are key to our success

We couldn’t do our research without the participation of canine companions like Tobi in our clinical trials. Get to know all the great dogs who have helped make a difference. 

You can make a difference! Make a tax-deductible donation to the Canine Spinal Cord Injury Program – by clicking the button below (please select the “Other” option and indicate the name of the “Spinal Cord Injury” in your gift).