Pet Care

What is Cauda Equina – Lumboscacral stenosis syndrome?

My dog is dragging his rear legs and he can’t control his back. What’s happening?

That’s exactly what I was thinking 3 years ago. We want to share with you our experiences with this very serious disease. Our Dogue de Bordeaux “Samson” was 6 when the disease that occurs at the lumbosacral junction in the lower back started.

It’s a relatively frequent neurological disorder in big to larger dogs. The term sacral refers to the sacrum, which is the part of the spine that joins the lumbar spine and the pelvis. This disease is also known as the Cauda Equina syndrome. This term comes from the Latin for “horse’s tail”. At this level, the spinal cord is no longer a tubular structure. Instead, it is a collection of large nerves that have the appearance of a horse’s tail. These are the bones in the lower part of the spinal column.

Lumbosacral stenosis syndrome is instability at this strategic point in the spine. The most common symptom is progressive sharp pain and the most devastating cases can evolve to full paralysis.

At that time we neutered Samson and I thought it has something to do with the surgery that he is acting a little different. Actually, he started to pee in the house, which was very abnormal to him. He felt guilty and was always looking for a place to hide. We took him out for hours to empty his bladder, walking around and waiting him to pee. I asked the vet and he told me that some male dogs get incontinent after the surgery and we believed the dog is incontinent. We treated him with medication to stop him to pee unwanted. One day he stopped lifting his leg to pee, he sat down like a female dog. At that point I realized it’s something different and visited a diff

erent vet. He explained me it’s nothing abnormal and I went home with my dog. But after a couple weeks he started to move while he was pooing and he couldn’t control his defecation. I moved carpets, organized furniture differently, because I thought he is bothered by something in his environment.  We walked the dog for hours and hours just to make sure, that he will poo outside. Samson was distressed from this situation, because he was a housebroken and always wanted to keep his place clean. It was a disaster for the dog and for us, not knowing what’s wrong with the dog. He started to drag his back legs and stopped wagging his tail. His tail was just hanging…. so sad.

After 1 year and talking to many people to find a solution I finally found an animal hospital, which just opened up near our house in Germany. We visited the clinic and described our dogs problem. Just by listening they suspected Cauda Equina. We took X-Rays and the magnetic resonance tomography brought us to light.

Lumboscacral stenosis syndrome.

He had his surgery after 2 weeks we visited the clinic. They removed portions of the bony spinal canal surrounding the entrapped nerve roots. A long rehabilitation was included. Hydro treat mill, acupuncture and therapy once a week filled my weekly schedule.

As the problem progresses, the disc that is located between the last lumbar vertebrae and the sacrum may rupture. The vet told me the dog will be uncoordinated when he walks, or he may be paralyzed in the rear legs.

At that time Samson was dealing with this disease for 1 1/2 year. He just peed and pod when he had to. We couldn’t take him to places he usually was used to go and we all had a hard time with the situation. He couldn’t express his bladder by his own and the bladder was always full with urine. One day, I had to invent my own techniques to help the dog. He was not paralyzed but he walked very slow, stopped running and could not stand longer than 1 minute at one point. Laying down and standing up is always hard for him. After a rainy walk I cleaned Samson’s back and stomach and realized that when I touched him under his anus, he started to loose urine. I heard about it , that paralyzed humans express their bladders with tabbing it. This was my solution. Tabbing the dog’s bladder under his tail and anus.

Actually, that’s the reason why I wanted to write this article. We helped many dog owners in telling them our way of expressing the  bladder. Most of the owners had to catheter their dogs 3 times a day and they always had bladder infections caused by rest urine in the bladder. We made very good the experience with the natural supplement Omega 3 fatty acids (no side effects). Since we are adding the liquid to his food, he’s doing much better with his legs and his other chronicle illnesses. He even started to run a little.

Today Samson is 9 years old and doing great! His tail is still not wagging, his rear legs are dragging after a 30 min. walk, he can’t sit down or lay down very well, he is incontinent,  can’t control defecation and he can’t stand still at one point longer than a minute. We arranged our life around him and we don’t want to miss him.


6 replies on “What is Cauda Equina – Lumboscacral stenosis syndrome?”

My dog has been diagnosed with the same problem. But the vet doesn’t recommend surgery because he is such an old dog. Is the top of your dog’s paw raw from scraping the ground? I’ve been going through a lot of doggy shoes since they become worn with holes at the top very quickly. Do you have a good solution for this?

I don’t have a lot of experiences with dog boots or shoes, but I have heard about Neoprene Orthopedic High Performance Outdoor Shoes for dogs with a rubber bottom for high durability. A friend of mine in Germany is always buying them online in America.
Tip: Every other day I put a little Vaseline creme on his raw paws.
I hope I could help you with your question.

This is a pretty old article, but i read it none the less. I consider myself a great dog owner. We have a beautiful rough haired collie and Belgian tervuren and we live in Canada. Our collie Cali has developed this condition and is only one year old so nothing devastating and thankfully this is repairable with a spine fusion surgery, which will be performed in two weeks.

I Just had to comment on this lady with the story of Samson from Germany…it was heart warming…Samson was such a lucky fellow to have such wonderful caring people… I am not sure if i could have been so diligent and attentive for such a long period of time.You folks are wonderful..I hope that this comment makes it onto the page and ultimately to the beautiful people that were so loving and caring to their Dog Samson.

Thank you so much for your sweet comment. Your message definitely made to Samson’s owners. He was a great dog and deserved all the care and love. We wish you all the best with your dog and keep us in the loop how the surgery goes. Good luck!

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