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You should know these top 19 symptoms of cauda equina compression syndrome!

Cauda equina compression syndrome (CECS for short ) is particularly common in German shepherds, boxers and Rottweilers. But beware: theoretically, any dog can be affected! The cauda equina is the rearmost part of the spinal cord and the bundle of nerves arising from it. It visually resembles a horse’s tail. Hence the name “cauda equina”. These nerves have a very important function. This is because they control fecal and urinary output. In addition, innervate the tail muscles and a significant portion of the muscles of the hind legs.

CECS is a degenerative, congenital or traumatic narrowing of the spinal canal. The compression affects the nerve roots from the last lumbar vertebra, as well as sacral and caudal roots. They pass through the region of the lower lumbar spine and sacrum as the cauda equina (horse’s tail). The nerve fibers are damaged by the direct pressure and by the undersupply of the blood vessels.

The compression and also the resulting consequences are often gradual. There are a number of triggers for nerve compression. In addition to genetic predisposition, this also includes lumbosacral stenosis (bony accumulation), connective tissue accumulation and connective tissue weaknesses.

Transitional vertebrae, herniated or bulging discs, and spondylosis may also be causes. Likewise, instability between the last lumbar vertebra and the sacrum can be a cause. Less common triggers are neoplasms, fractures, dislocations, or discospondylitis. Likewise, factors such as overweight, misuse and overloading and also the natural aging process promote the development of compression.

The consequences of compression can be dramatic

The consequences of CECS are highly dependent on the extent of compression on the nerves. This means that in the course of the disease, if not treated, complete paralysis of the hind legs can occur. Urinary and fecal incontinence may also occur.

The symptoms of CECS

Precisely because CECS is usually gradual, it is very important to know the symptoms. This way you can act in time. Often the first signs are dismissed as “lumbago” or a consequence of the aging process. But there’s more to it than that.

The symptoms are very broad and depend on the pressure exerted on the spinal cord. The fatal thing is that they usually develop slowly and insidiously and are not noticed until late.

The first signs appear on average at about 6 years of age. But there are also very young patients or very old patients.

The most common symptoms for cauda equina compression syndrome:

      1. Sensitivity to pressure and pain in the transition from the lumbar spine to the sacrum
      2. Avoid movements that put increased pressure on the lower back, such as jumping, getting into a car, and climbing stairs. Not infrequently, this is dismissed as stubbornness.
      3. Affected dogs often exhibit lambsquarters. This means the tail hangs down limply due to poor nerve conduction. Bending up the rod is very painful.
      4. Difficulty getting up and lying down. Also often associated with sighs and groans.
      5. Lifting legs or shaking become a problem
      6. Coordination and balance decrease significantly. The four-legged friend is wobbly on his feet.
      7. The mobility is limited
      8. The joy of movement is also lost
      9. The muscles on the back tense
      10. Warm spots appear on the back
      11. The dog is very sensitive to touch
      12. The musculature on the hind legs continuously decreases
      13. Trembling of the hind limbs due to weakness or pain
      14. Locomotion is completely stemmed from the front legs
      15. Buckling on the hindquarters
      16. Neurological failure symptoms
      17. Paw loops
      18. Paralysis symptoms
      19. Urinary and fecal incontinence

    Of course, the above symptoms can also indicate various other diseases of the musculoskeletal system. However, it is important in any case: if your four-legged friend shows one or more signs, have him examined.


    If your dog has already been diagnosed with Cauda Equina Compression Syndrome, here is a brilliant exercise for your four-legged friend.

    Have you ever known or had a dog with cauda equina compression syndrome? What is your experience with the disease? I am very interested in this, please leave me a comment.

    All the love, your Tina

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