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Schiff-Sherrington Syndrome in Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

Schiff-Sherrington syndrome is a posture that some dog's have due to spinal cord lesions. Dogs displaying this posture have paralysis in their pelvis and rear limbs, and their front limbs are rigid and extended. These dogs are often unable to stand or have an unusual gait in more mild cases.

If a dog displays Shiff-Sherrington posture, it indicates that the spinal cord lesion is located between the T2 and L3 vertebrae. It is usually the result of either:

  • Severe injury
  • Intervertebral disk disease

Diagnosis of Schiff-Sherrington

In addition to a physical examination, your vet may do a blood test, urinalysis and electrolyte profile to rule out other causes and conditions. Diagnostic imaging tests, such as CT, MRI and myelography scans, help your vet get a better understanding of the location and severity of the spinal injury. If the posture is caused by injury, your vet will check for other injuries that need treatment.

Treatment and Prognosis

During the physical examination, your vet will test your dog's hind limbs for deep pain by strongly pinching his toes or using a needle to scrape the connective tissue in the toe joint. If your dog can feel deep pain, the condition may be reversible.

There is no specific treatment for Schiff-Sherrington. Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, treatment options may include:

  • Cage rest
  • Steroids to decrease inflammation
  • Mannitol administered intravenously
  • Surgery

Ongoing treatments to help your dog recover include acupuncture, weigh loss or control and pain medications.