As we are near the end of our anatomical tour, we have arrived at the central control station. The Central Nervous System consists of the brain and spinal cord. You can think of the spinal cord as one of those huge cables full of hundreds of insulated wires. Information that comes from the rest of the body via nerves (individual wires) enters the spinal cord and heads towards the brain. The brain really is like a biological computer. Here the nerves (wires) enter various relay stations and the information can be diverted to any number of work stations. There are places to control movement, vision, taste, thought, emotion, balance and virtually every body function your pet experiences. Information leaves the brain via a different set of wires (or nerves), travels down the cord and leaves via individual nerves to reach the rest of the body. Most nerves are insulated with a layer of fat. This is very important for proper conduction of information. The analogy to a set of wires is a good one, because the signal sent down the nerves is electrical. The nervous tissue is quite delicate and thus is well protected. The brain is housed within the skull and œfloats in a bit of fluid. The spinal cord is surrounded by a bony canal within the vertebrae. Dogs and cats have 28 vertebral bones with a disc in between each bone. The intervertebral disc is a lot like a jelly donut with a soft squishy center.
The nervous system is one of God ™s greatest productions – truly amazing. But when things go wrong here, it can be disastrous.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP