Max was brought to see us after being found collapsed the previous evening. He was paralysed in all four legs, with no voluntary movement at all – though he still remained able to wag his tail.
Max was referred to our Neurology team. A neurological examination showed the problem to be affecting the spinal cord at the base of his neck. Following an MRI scan and analysis of a sample of spinal fluid, we were able to conclude that he had a fibrocartilaginous embolus (FCE). In this condition, blood vessels to the spinal cord become blocked by microscopic fragments of cartilage.
Surgery and medical treatment are ineffective in dogs with FCE – instead, recovery depends on physiotherapy to encourage the damaged but surviving components of the spinal cord to start functioning normally again.
In Max’s case, the damage was severe and although he soon started to show signs of improvement, progress was very slow, requiring a month’s stay with us. Fortunately, he was able to get home for Christmas – and he continues to make good progress.