Clinical signs of cauda equina syndrome may include a prolonged period of intermittent or continuous weakness of the hind limbs.
As time progresses with this disease, the clinical signs become more and more severe and pronounced. Some dogs show lameness of one of the hind limbs if an intervertebral disk is bulging on one side of the spinal canal. When this bulging of the disk compresses one of the nerve roots to a hind limb, it is called “root signature.”
Your pet may be in pain, and will let you know by intermittently crying especially with activity or sudden movement. Your pet may also exhibit pain upon touching the lower spine. As your pet’s owner and advocate, another sign to watch for is a crouched stance of the body with flexion of the hips, knees and ankles.
When walking, your dog may have a choppy movement of the hind limbs. If your pet’s disease is more advanced, he may knuckle the paws over or walk on the top of the paws. Difficulty jumping, rising from a sitting position, and climbing stairs are also common in affected dogs.
In later stages of the disease, your pet may leak urine while he is sleeping, or could drop feces without meaning to. Defecation in general can also be affected by difficulty with posturing. Severely affected pets will also lose the ability to wag or raise the tail while urinating or defecating. Some dogs will mutilate their own tail, presumably due to a tingling sensation in this region.