Lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers
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Lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers

Dogs
Health & Safety

The rottweiler is a large, muscular and imposing-looking dog breed that is very loyal to the people they love, and that can make for a good choice of pet for many different types of owners. They’re also a very popular breed all across the UK too, being the 25th most popular dog breed overall, based on the number of adverts placed on Pets4Homes for rottweiler dogs and puppies for saleeach year.

However, the rottweiler breed as a whole is one that has a number of health challenges, including a range of hereditary rottweiler health conditions that affect a small but significant number of dogs of the breed, and which can affect their quality of life and longevity. The rottweiler’s average lifespan ranges between eight and ten years, which is on the low side, even for a large breed.

As well as the well-known hereditary health conditions that appear in the rottweiler breed more often than they do in most other breeds, there are also a number of other conditions that rottweilers seem to be more prone to than most as well, and one of these is called lumbosacral stenosis.

Lumbosacral stenosis is a painful condition of the spine, which can either be present from birth in affected dogs, or develop later on in life as a result of degeneration of the nerves around the spinal cord.

If you are considering buying a rottweiler or if you already own one, it is a good idea to learn the basics of lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers, including the main symptoms and what can be done about the condition. In this article we will examine lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers in more detail, to provide an introduction to the condition for rottweiler owners and prospective owners. Read on to learn more.

What is lumbosacral stenosis?

Lumbosacral stenosis is a condition of the spine and surrounding nerves, which develops in the area where the dog’s pelvis meets with the spinal column, in the lower half of the dog’s back. Lumbosacral stenosis can be a complex condition because it can affect various different parts of the dog’s rear end, including potentially the back legs, tail, bowels and/or bladder.

Lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers may be present from birth as a congenital defect caused by a narrowing of the spinal column itself, or it may develop over time as a degenerative condition resulting from damage, injury, or another underlying illness.

In rottweilers that inherit the congenital form of the condition, the vertebrae themselves are usually malformed, and place pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord in the area where the nerves connect with the dog’s tail. Compression of the nerves is what results in the condition’s symptoms, which often include pain, although the symptoms of lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers can be quite variable from dog to dog.

What type of rottweilers are most at risk for lumbosacral stenosis?

Rottweilers who have a parent or another close relative that suffered from congenital lumbosacral stenosis are more likely to themselves inherit the congenital form of the condition, and it is more common in male dogs than females. Both neutered and unneutered dogs can be affected.

Whilst the symptoms of lumbosacral stenosis tend to develop later in life – over the age of five in most cases – they may develop in much younger dogs too.

What are the symptoms of lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers?

Lumbosacral stenosis can be hard to identify during its early stages of becoming symptomatic, and the symptoms that it does present are common to a number of other conditions too, which must be considered and ruled out by your vet on the way to reaching a diagnosis.

Some of the most common symptoms of lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers include:

  • A noticeable and potentially progressive limp in one or both hind legs.
  • Problems getting up and down from a lying position.
  • Incontinence of either the bowel, bladder or both.
  • Paralysis of the hind limbs.
  • A limp or weak tail.
  • Lumbosacral stenosis is usually painful for dogs, who will sometimes show acute signs of pain and discomfort in the lower half of their back and potentially, tail and legs.

In order to make a diagnosis of lumbosacral stenosis, your vet will conduct a physical examination of your dog and talk to you about the symptoms you have noticed at home, and they may then use x-rays, a CT scan, an MRI scan or other diagnostic imaging tools to reach a formal conclusion.

Treating and managing lumbosacral stenosis in rottweilers

The best and most appropriate course of treatment for any individual dog will depend on a range of factors including how severe their pain and symptoms are, their age, general health, and lifestyle.

In rottweilers that are only mildly affected by lumbosacral stenosis, the condition may be managed with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications, and plenty of rest so that the dog doesn’t exert themselves and cause further pain or damage.

However, for acute and serious presentations of the condition, surgery may be required to ease the dog’s pain and improve their quality of life, and to prevent the condition from progressing further. This surgery involves operating above the compressed nerves themselves to ease the pressure on them, and recovery from such a surgery can be quite protracted, and usually involves a range of physical therapies to aid with healing.

Surgery for lumbosacral stenosis may not fully cure the issue or return your dog’s full range of free movement, but it usually goes a long way towards easing pain and improving their mobility and so, quality of life.

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