The Paralyzed Animal

Once your animal has become paralyzed, time is of the essence. The pressure from the bulging disc against the spinal nerve or spinal cord must be removed as soon as possible. The pressure causes the nerve or cord to slowly die and this can result in permanent residuals. The first residual is usually the loss of fine motor control. This is the loss of ability to control fine movements such as the exact placement of the leg under the animal. With the loss of fine motor control, your animal may walk with large, exaggerated steps or stand with the paw curled under itself, rather than standing on the pads of the foot.

As pressure remains on the nerve or cord, the loss of gross motor control may then occur. This can present itself as the inability of the animal being able to move a leg, raise its tail or move its entire trunk. The inability to control urination or bowel movement can also present itself.

This situation requires immediate attention and with my established protocol, I have about a 92% success rate in returning the animal to full mobility.

It is important to note that chiropractic work upon the paralyzed animal is "cutting edge" work and is generally not recognized by the veterinarian. Usually, there are two recommended treatments that the veterinarian will suggest. One is to administer medication and "wait and see" and the second is to utilize euthanasia. Because I consider all pets as members of the family, I never consider euthanasia an option until my protocol has been considered. This opinion, however, is not widely shared amongst veterinarians as my work and success rate is not well known - yet!

I have found that a small percentage of animals with the "wait and see" treatment will improve for about a year and then present with complete paralysis (the inability to move all four legs). But I must point out that it is in this initial period of time, immediately after the onset of paralysis, that I can usually achieve my best results. Instead of "wait and see" I would suggest "let me try"!.

There is also a small percentage of animals with the "wait and see" treatment that will improve and never have another incident. But the majority of animals, I have found, will continue to progressively become more paralyzed, within a very short time.

Dr. De Grasse's protocol for the paralyzed animal (partial or complete):

  • Tranquilizer is usually administered by the veterinarian as the animal most often presents with a lot of pain.
  • A two view (lateral and AP) xray study is taken. Please note: If you are having your veterinarian take the xrays to bring to Dr. De Grasse, please instruct the radiology technician to include the border of the occiput upon the cervical film and to include the entire pelvis with 2 or 3 tail carpals on the AP film. Dr. De Grasse does not need to see the knees upon the AP film but does need to see as many lumbar vertebrae as possible.
  • A steroid injection is given ASAP and usually a muscle relaxant injection is given. Then a course of 10 days of steroid pills is administered with the dosage changed, as needed, during the chiropractic care. A course of muscle relaxants is administered if severe muscle spasms are present. This usually happens with neck injuries and presents itself with the animal unable to raise its head, difficulty swallowing or any presentation of front leg paralysis.
  • The holistic bowel program is started immediately.
  • The animal safety program is instituted immediately.
  • Chiropractic care is started immediately while the animal is under the influence of the tranquilizer. Dr. Grasse may utilize a full anesthetic to make the chiropractic manipulation if the spinal misalignment is severe or the animal is in severe pain.
  • Upon the second visit, spinal rehabilitation is started. Animal massage and traction moves are taught and expected to be performed at home.
  • The animal is seen usually every two or three days, for the initial two weeks by Dr. De Grasse. The majority of my patients are walking within this period of time or if not walking, a significant improvement is usually demonstrated and the owners feel that they have hope.
  • Once the animal is walking, a maintenance program is designed to fit the animal's needs and is instituted.
  • Prophylactic antibiotics are frequently used as some animals develop an urinary tract infection secondary to the paralysis. It is my experience that starting the medication early really helps to prevent prolonged problems with infection, skin breakdown and leakage of urine.

  • Please note:  A veterinarian may use the word "herniation" to refer to both a true herniation and a disc bulge.  The chiropractor will make a distinction between the two words. 

    If the contents of the disc has ruptured and the contents has come out from the disc wall and is pressing against the spinal nerve or spinal cord - I cannot help the animal. This is a true herniation.  This situation requires surgery to actually remove the material.  

    But if a disc is only bulging against the spinal nerve or spinal cord then I have been very successful is helping to retract the bulge from against the nerve or cord.  The contents of the disc have not broken through the wall of the disc and this condition is only a disc bulge not a herniation, in the true sense of the word.

    About 40% of my animals will walk after the initial chiropractic adjustment but if your animal does not - do not despair! I have had a "doxie" present with paralysis for one month and it took me two months of chiropractic care to get him walking but as of this writing, he is still up and about!