Natasha Olby, Vet MB, PhD, DACVIM
Neurons produce their effect by generating and propagating action potentials. In order to do this, they need to have adequate energy supplies (to maintain resting potential and axonal transport) and appropriate concentrations of electrolytes.
Spinal pain is a common cause of morbidity in domestic pets, but can be frustrating to manage, particularly if the signs are episodic and never present when you see the patient! The pet owners may be more emotional about a painful pet than about other medical problems, and somewhat defensive about describing the signs.
Paraparesis is a common presenting sign in cats, but the differential diagnoses are less well known than for dogs. In addition, it can be challenging to perform a neurological examination in cats, making it more difficult to accurately localize the problem.
Over the last decade, the resources required to perform genetic studies in dogs have been developed and made available.
Evaluation of mental status is a subtle and extremely important skill that requires input from the owner in addition to professional evaluation. Changes in mental status can indicate simply a minor systemic illness, or could indicate dangerously high intracranial pressure.
As dogs get older they frequently "slow up". This is to be expected and as a result it is common that such animals do not receive a careful evaluation and a presumptive diagnosis of "arthritis" or "old age" is made.