Rafa’s Wobbly Worry

Rafa, a sweet 4-month-old Fox terrier puppy was referred to our Neurology Team after he was suddenly unable to stand up and walk. His owners said he had jumped up, fallen over and banged his head, being unconscious for a few seconds that felt like minutes. However, when he regained consciousness, he wasn’t able to stand up or walk.

He was hospitalised at another clinic and received pain relief and fluid therapy overnight, before being referred to us for further investigation.

When he arrived, he was examined by Jessica Zilli one of our Residents in Neurology and Neurosurgery, and this neurological examination revealed a wobbly, uncertain gait of all four of his limbs. Rafa also didn’t seem to be fully aware of the position of his paws. This was consistent with a spinal cord problem at the level of his neck.

Rafa had an MRI scan and x-rays of his cervical vertebral column, which showed traumatic spinal cord injury secondary to a bony malformation and instability of his first two spine bones (atlantoaxial malformation). As Rafa had already seemed to improve considerably and quickly while he was with us,  Jessica talked to his owners and together they agreed to opt for conservative management, meaning to continue pain relief and very strict rest.

Rafa was rechecked 4 weeks later and was doing well and his neurological exam was normal. However, due to the presence of the malformation of his spine, repeat contusion and subsequent neurological deterioration following even minor trauma remains a real possibility for him. So Jessica recommended that Rafa avoids boisterous activity in the future and to monitor for any worsening of his clinical signs. If Rafa does show a relapse of his signs then corrective surgery is likely to be the best long term option.

His owner said “I’m pleased to report Rafa is doing really well and we are so happy with the progress he has made. So grateful for the care he received from the team.”