Dogs Sliding

Taking a Closer Look at Lumbosacral Instability

We spoke in a previous blog post about IVDD (disc disease) in dogs but let us take a closer look at a particular type called Lumbosacral Stenosis/Lumbosacral Instability. Unlike disc disease which is more prevalent in our smaller and longer breeds of dogs like Dachshunds and Shih Tzus; Lumbosacral Stenosis (LS) is more common in large breed dogs such as, Retrievers and Greyhounds.

We already spoke about the anatomy of the spine and the spinal cord. The area we are talking about with LS disease is the lower back, the last lumbar vertebrae and the start of the sacrum which the area of the spine that connects the lower lumbar region and the pelvis. In this area, the spinal cord becomes a bunch of individualized nerves that then travel to the back half of the body and the organs.

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With LS Stenosis, there is motion at the end of the lumbar spine and sacrum that puts pressure on the nerves in that area and causes significant issues. Often the symptoms include; tripping when walking, standing on the tops of the hind feet, falling, wobbliness in the hind end, pain on palpation of that area, walking with the hind end lower than the rest of the body, and many other non-specific signs. LS disease can mimic the symptoms of hip arthritis so it is important to speak with your veterinarian about these issues.

Diagnosis of LS disease is done by a variety of methods starting with a good physical examination by your veterinarian. The next step is usually imaging of the lower back and hips. Radiographs can show some evidence of LS disease but, to confirm the diagnosis, we typically recommend advanced imaging such a CT or MRI scan.

Treating LS disease is a complex process that is best served by a multi-modal approach to include a combination of therapies to reduce pain, improve mobility, and preserve quality of life. The first phase of treatment is usually medications. Unlike arthritis, LS patients often need a bit more pain control that just standard anti-inflammatories. We will typically use a combination of pain medications. At the same time, we strongly recommend traction-aiding devices like PawFriction to reduce the risk of sliding and to keep muscle mass healthy; one fall can cause a significant flare up of LS pain.

There are some more advanced therapies for LS disease that can be performed including intra-spinal injections of steroids and some surgical possibilities. These should be discussed with your veterinarian or a specialist as they take some advanced training to perform.

While Lumbosacral Stenosis is a progressive disease, thankfully we can make many dogs extremely comfortable and mobile for many years in the future.

Can PawFriction Help My Puppy?

Watching a puppy play and run can be quite comical! You know what we mean, they are adorable at that “awkward” stage. We have been asked if PawFriction can be used for puppies who stumble on wood or slippery surfaces. ABSOLUTLY! However, keep in mind that puppies, like children are active and we would expect for the product to wear off quickly.

PawFriction is a great tool for training purposes. Here are a few fun puppy facts courtesy of Facts-about.org.uk!
     1. They are born blind, deaf, and toothless.
     2. A puppy spends about fourteen hours of every day sleeping.
     3. They develop their sense of smell at the age of three weeks.
     4. Every year in the United States, more than 5 million puppies are born.
     5. During the first week of a puppy’s life, it spends 90% of its days sleeping and 10% eating.
     6. By the age of one, a puppy is considered to be an adult. In human years, this is the
         physical equivalent of being 15 years old.

Bailey Loves PawFriction

Why is Paw Friction so important? A Veterinarian's View: Part One

     The underside of a dog's foot is built for traction.

     The underside of a dog's foot is built for traction.

We have received a few questions about what exactly gives a dog traction: is it the paw pads or the claws/toes and why is PawFriction the best product to help stop sliding on hardwood and other smooth floors? The answer to that question depends very much on what your dog is doing at the time. The paw pads are constantly giving the dog traction; stopping all forms of sliding and slipping. The toes/claws act as rudders, stabilizing the dog when they are running or turning by virtue of being able to dig into the environment (such as dirt). 

Look at this image of a dog with trimmed nails running. The nails barely even contact the ground. This is even on a slippery surface, no nails needed!

Look at this image of a dog with trimmed nails running. The nails barely even contact the ground. This is even on a slippery surface, no nails needed!

There are many blogs out there that claim the toes/nails are responsible for most, if not all the traction, and have claimed that products used to increase paw pad traction are flawed in their mechanisms. This is absolutely, 100%, not the case at all. However, you don’t have to take our word for it, we have a tendency to be biased…so let us go to the experts!There was a recent study released that is in the process of peer review. It is the first study that has actually looked at the physics of the paw pads, how they work, and the response of the paw pads in changes to pressure. In it, they took two dogs who passed away of natural causes and did histopathology of their paw pads to look at the structure of the many layers.  What they determined is that the outside layer of the paw pad was composed of thousands of “spikes” of tissue. These spikes are biomechanically adapted to increase traction. Here is a section taken directly from their study: “The bottom part of the stratum corneum is in direct contact with the ground surface during locomotion, and is composed of the hardest material (Young's modulus E ≈ 6MPa, Luboz et al., 2014) among all the three layers presumably to endure the tremendous pad-ground wear, friction and impact during locomotion (Meyer et al., 1990; 271 Luboz et al., 2014).” (Maio et al. 2016).
Here is a link to the paper if you would like to read it: https://peerj.com/preprints/2340.pdf

Take a look at the "papilla" present on the paw pads. All those little spikes are designed to give your dog's feet traction.

Take a look at the "papilla" present on the paw pads. All those little spikes are designed to give your dog's feet traction.

We aren’t arguing that the toes grip and help with traction but this is biomechanically only import when dogs are trying to run and turn abruptly or when they feel like they are slipping; they react by trying to sink their nails into whatever they are standing on. Let us look at the paws like they are shoes. The sole/tread does the bulk of the work in everyday situations but, when added traction is needed, you add cleats to help grip the dirt…but you wouldn’t wear cleats every day, right? We have created flooring (wood, tile,etc.) that significantly reduces the friction when anyone walks on it. Dogs don’t slip on grass and gravel, right? Because those substrates provide increased friction and allow the dog to sink…this is why we all slip on ice; loss of friction.

More in the next blog post!
Dr. B