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Animal Emergency

Our animal emergency hospital is open 24h per day, 365 days per year, and is staffed by experienced emergency vets and nurses caring for your pet.

Internal Medicine

Our Internal medicine service deals with heart problems, cancer, gastrointestinal disease, neurology and a range of other illnesses.

Animal Surgery

We offer the latest techniques in chest & abdominal surgery, cancer surgery, wound reconstruction, spinal imaging & surgery and advanced orthopaedics.


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Spinal cord disease can cause leg weakness and back or neck pain. There are numerous possible causes such as disc prolapse (bulging disc), trauma (accident), neoplasia (cancer) and inflammation (swelling). Fortunately the most common cause is intervertebral disc disease which can, in most cases, be fixed with surgery.

How would you know if your pet develops a spinal cord problem? Your pet will develop a combination of muscular weakness and ataxia (incoordination) resulting in stumbling and dragging of the feet. If this deteriorates, your pet may not have sufficient strength to stand and walk without your help. You may also notice hunching and alterations in the way they posture (stand) which can be a sign of pain. Other pets will start yelping and whinning if in  pain. Look at the nails - sometimes the central toes have worn toe-nails.

Paralysis of hindlimbs
Muscular weakness (LMN)
Sensory deficit

The first step in investigating for a suspected spinal cord problem is to have an experienced vet perform a thorough neurological examination. This involves a systemical assessment of each limb, testing reflexes and looking for clues as to the style of spinal cord disease that may be affecting the patient. Further imaging tests which can be helpful include: plain survey spinal radiographs, contrast myelography (dye study), CT & MRI scanning. We can also analyze the cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that bathes the spinal cord).

Neurological exam
Position for neck x-ray
Spinal fluid collection
CT scan
CT - disc herniation
MRI - disc bulge

Neurosurgery (spinal surgery) should only be performed by a registered specialist in small animal surgery. This type of operation needs to be done well to provide the best chance of recovery. The spinal cord is very unforgiving and mistakes during surgery may result in a poor outcome. Dr. Chris Preston received extensive neurosurgical training at one of the world's premier University departments - the University of California, Davis. He has extensive experience in all dteremining if surgery is appropriate for your pet. Excellent results can be achieved in most dogs provided all steps are followed and postoperative care is provided. Click here for a pdf on common spinal problems.

Normal myelogram
Cord compression
Spinal surgery

What do we do when performing spinal surgery ? If there is a broken neck or back, we can align the bone and stabilize it with implants and the bone will heal. If there is a disc herniation (prolapse) we drill an access hole in the bone (laminectomy) and decompressive (relieve the pressure) on the spinal cord. Sometimes the spine is unstable so we can place implants after decompression to reduce motion. If we are dealing with spinal cord cancer, the treatments are limited to reducing the tumor mass; rarely do we achieve a cure. Click here for PDF on neurosurgical advances.

Non-displaced fracture
Displaced fracture
Surgical fixation

The recovery process after major spinal surgery can be prolonged. Clients can experience an emotional roller-coaster as there may be good days followed by bad days. The rehabilitation process begins after surgery with passive limb exercises performed by our veterinary and nursing staff. We offer underwater treadmill hydrotherapy to aid in faster recovery as the bouyancy of water helps reduce the weight passing through the legs. This is available for in-patients but can also be arranged for out-patients too.

Extension of spine
Flexion of spine
Tetraparesis in all limbs
5 days after neck surgery
10 days after back surgery