Dogs and cats have nervous systems similar to humans, and just like humans, the brain, spinal cord, vertebrae and peripheral nerves can experience injury and deterioration. The result is a neurological disorder that can often be healed, cured or managed. The veterinary neurologists at The Animal Neurology & Imaging Center (The ANIC) provide the advanced testing and treatment your pet needs – right here at the Animal Medical & Surgical Center (AMSC) location in Scottsdale.
Recognizing a Potential Neurological Disorder
Pets can experience many of the same neurological disorders that humans do, such as:
- Autoimmune disease affecting the brain and/or spinal cord
- Infection of the brain and/or spinal cord
- Inflammation of one or more components of the central nervous system
- Seizures (caused by epilepsy and/or endocrine disruption)
- Slipped disc (degenerative disc disease)
For many neurological disorders, diagnostic methods are also the same as those for humans—MRI and CT scan.
The symptoms that we see most often in patients at The ANIC include:
- Head pressing
- Inability to use one or more limbs
- Pain, which may be indicated by vocalization, sensitivity to touch and/or behavior changes
- Sudden or unexplained weakness and/or stumbling
Some behavior changes, like circling or head pressing, are immediately noticeable and may require emergency care. Others may be intermittent and take hours or days to be recognized.
Some causes of neurological disorders are evident, such as trauma. Others, however, may be latent, resulting from:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Congenital conditions
- Inherited susceptibility
- Underlying systemic disease
Determining the cause of neurological disorders in most cases can aid the development of an effective treatment plan. When needed, we may request records from your pet’s regular vet so that we have a more complete picture of your pet’s medical history.
Diagnosing a Neurological Disorder
If your pet is showing any of the symptoms outlined above, diagnostic imaging will likely be necessary to find the root of the problem. The ANIC applies the same technology used to see inside the human body—MRI and CT scans—to locate and analyze neurological symptoms and inform treatment plans for your four-legged family member.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans are non-invasive diagnostic imaging methods used to examine what is going on inside your pet’s body that the naked eye cannot see. These imaging technologies allow our doctors to diagnose a range of maladies, such as:
MRIs and CT scans are useful in diagnosing neurological issues resulting from congenital defects, aging and/or trauma. By creating a picture of the brain, spinal cord and fluid, vertebrae, etc., our doctors can see where the problem in the nervous system lies, and that helps us explain how the rest of your pet’s body is being (or may be) affected.
The ANIC also has special veterinary coils made to fit small animals that help us get better images for improved diagnostic capability.
When your pet undergoes an MRI or CT scan at The ANIC, they get the best care possible. Pets undergoing an MRI require anesthesia. Before administering any anesthetic, we make sure they are healthy enough to undergo the procedure by either doing blood tests or getting recent blood test results from your regular veterinarian.
Because your pet is sedated or anesthetized for either procedure, we constantly monitor their vitals throughout the MRI or CT scan. Unlike other clinics where one practitioner multitasks, we have a dedicated nurse monitoring vitals while another clinician performs the actual scan.
After the MRI or CT scan, your pet will recover in our ICU where they are continually monitored by a veterinary nurse. Once they are ready to return home with you, they may be a little groggy. Some pets may experience mild nausea and/or vomiting.
How To Address Your Pet’s Neurological Disorder
What to do after observing symptoms of a neurological disorder is determined by the type and cause of the disorder. Solutions may include spinal surgery, brain surgery, radiation therapy, or management using medications. Our staff will help guide you through understanding the diagnosis and treatment process.