Peripheral Neuropathies in Dogs

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Peripheral Neuropathies

Todd Prince, DVM, a board-certified small animal veterinarian, serves on the staff of several veterinary practices in and around Naperville, Illinois. Dr. Todd L. Prince draws on extensive experience in the treatment of canine neurological disorders, such as peripheral neuropathies.

As its name indicates, a peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves outside of the central nervous system. These nerves are responsible for a variety of functions, including coordinated movement as well as automatic physical function. Interruption of these functions may occur if there is a degeneration of the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerve or if the nerve fibers themselves begin to disintegrate.

Because the peripheral nerves serve so many purposes, their degeneration causes a wide variety of symptom sets and stems from a range of disorders. Common causes include breed-specific congenital conditions, parasitic infections, and environmental toxins. Symptoms range from weakness in the limbs to spatial disorientation and typically develop gradually, which in turn means that owners often do not notice a problem until it is significantly advanced.

Veterinary medicine currently has no available cure for peripheral neuropathy. The disease causes continued degeneration once identified, though palliative treatments targeted at specific symptoms can increase a dog’s quality of life and mitigate discomfort.