Radial nerve paralysis in dogs is one of the most common forms of nerve injuries that affect dogs, but as with all nerve injuries, it is also very mysterious.
Once this nerve is damaged, your dog may return to normal as if nothing ever happened, or they may be crippled for the rest of their lives.
To help to fully understand this type of an injury in your dog, it is helpful to understand how this nerve functions.
Radial nerve paralysis in dogs is a lot easier to understand with some basic knowledge of the radical nerve.
This nerve in your dog crosses bone directly above what is called the elbow of your pet, and it is extremely vulnerable to injury if your dog is stuck with a heavy object or worse yet, hit by a car.
What makes this type of an injury both so damaging as well as frustrating, is that there is no known treatment for this type of nerve injury.
The radical nerve is the largest of all the nerves in your dog’s front leg.
It carries the responsibility of helping your dog extend their elbow, their wrist, as well as their toes.
In addition to these tasks, it also provides all of the sensation that your dog feels to their upper inside surface of their front legs as well as the upper surface of their paws.
This nerve starts under the upper portion of the front leg from a bundle of nerves that are referred to as the bronchial plexus.
This entire nerve grouping is found in your dog’s spinal column in their neck area.
The radical nerve than travels down the up-side of your dog’s leg and crosses directly above their elbow and from there it goes very deep into their body.
It eventually branches into the muscles of their lower front leg and finally ends in their paw.
Unlike many other nerve conditions or several diseases, radial nerve paralysis in dogs is not vague but rather very explicit in the symptoms that it will show.
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, in over 99 percent of all cases it is radial nerve paralysis.
The first symptom that you will see is where your dog has lost their ability to control their triceps muscle as well as the muscles that extend their front leg.
As a result of this, they will not be able to extend their elbow or their lower limb. In other words, their leg will remain either flexed or bent.
Once this does occur, your dog will not be able to stand on the leg because it no longer has the ability to bear any weight at all.
The next symptom is also very distinct; they will begin to drag their paw, but it will be the upper side of the paw, not the bottom side.
If both of these do occur, immediately pinch your dog’s upper and outside fore leg.
If they do not react at all or very slightly, it is the final symptom, as they have lost most of their feelings, or in some cases, all of the feeling.
The degree of damage that radial nerve paralysis in dogs actually does will all depend on how bad the nerve has been affected.
The best way to understand this is in knowledge of the nerves themselves.
The nerves in your dogs are basically like wires, just a lot smaller. These wires also have a covering, which in your dog is called nerve sheaths.
The level of damage and how bad these wires as well as the sheath have been damaged will dictate the type of recovery you can expect in your dog.
There are three levels of damage: Neuropraxia, Axonotmesis, and Neurotmesis.
The first form of radial nerve paralysis in dogs is referred to as Neuropraxia, and this is the type of damage you hope has occurred.
This is basically a situation where these wires in your dog have only become bent.
As a result, the loss of nerve functions by your dog will be a temporary situation.
They will gradually begin to bend back into their normal positions and start functioning properly on their own.
The second form is referred to as Axonotmesis, and if the damage is not the first form, you need to hope it is this form.
This is a condition where the wires or nerve fibers have ruptured, but the covering or the sheath, has not been damaged.
The chances are not nearly as good at full recovery, but there is still some hope.
The nerve fibers in your dog actually grow constantly, but only at a rate of 1 mm per day. Although your dog only has about a 50/50 chance at full recovery, these fibers may actually grow and reconnect.
It may take several months, but at least they have a chance at full recovery.
The final form of radial nerve paralysis in dogs is referred to as Neurotmesis, and it will be a devastating injury for your dog.
This would be like taking a pair of scissors and cutting the wires or nerves fibers and completely severing them. The chances of any type of recovery with this form of injury are next to impossible.
Radial nerve paralysis in dogs has no wonder treatment or new advances, at least not yet.
All nerve injuries are considered very mysterious simply because there is no full proof way to actually determine the extent of damage.
However, once you have confirmed the injury and taken your dog to your veterinarian, they can give you a fairly good idea of their chances by examining your dog.
This will be done by detecting how deep the pain threshold actually is. If your dog can still detect deep pain by pinching the toe and they make any leg movement at all, they have a chance.
The best method of any type of treatment will come from you. When your dog loses the ability to walk on the affected limb, muscle lose, called atrophy, will develop within a few days.
This is where the muscles start to shrink because of lack of usage.
You will need to immediately begin physical therapy by rubbing these affected nerves to try to keep the blood flowing properly.
The flow of blood and the nutrients in the blood will help the nerves grow if they can.
Radial nerve paralysis in dogs is the one of the common type of nerve injuries, but your dog still has a chance of full recovery.
If the nerves to begin to grow, there is still one major danger that your dog will face. There is a condition that is called paraesthesia where your dog will begin to feel very abnormal sensations in their affected limb.
This can be very good as well as very bad signs if you are not ready for them. It means that re-growth is occurring, which is great news.
However, it is also very dangerous because it will signal your dog that something very strange is happening.
There have been several cases where dogs will self-mutilate their own leg because of these sensations, and they do not understand what is happening.
If this starts and you do not catch it, there will be only one alternative; amputation.
Amputation may also be the only alternative if there is no hope at growth. But a living dog with three legs is still much better than losing your pet.
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