Last week we saw that the nervous system is basically a set of electrical wires, and we can compare many of its diseases to electrical shorts or misfires. Since the brain and spinal cord are housed in bony compartments, these organs have no room to move or even swell. Anything that presses on the brain, cord or nerve roots as they leave the cord, will squish nerves. This can cause pain and/or dysfunction. If a nerve that provides signals to the back leg is under pressure or damaged, the back leg will become weak and eventually unable to move. Tumors, abscesses, fractured bone or bony growths can all press on the brain or cord. The most common thing to impinge on the spinal cord is a ruptured intervertebral disc. Last week I compared the disc to a jelly donut. When you squeeze on a jelly donut, the jelly oozes out – in this case it oozes into the space around the cord and compresses it leading to pain or nerve dysfunction.
Seizures can be compared to an electrical storm. One area of the brain misfires and that leads to various other short circuits and conduction disturbances. Eventually all sorts of areas in the brain are sending out bad signals and the body starts moving and shaking in ways that don ™t make sense. This can happen due to anatomical abnormalities, chemical imbalances, drug & toxin effects, tumors or other masses. Diagnosing neurologic disease can be expensive and often requires spinal taps, CT scans or MRI scans which generally means referral to a neurologist.
If you have a pet with an abnormal gait, occasional seizures, vision problems or other issues which might be œelectrical, come see us.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP